The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, has published a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine that shows that full disclosure of medical errors leads to lower costs and a decrease in the number of lawsuits.

The study is based on a University of Michigan Health System (UMHS) program that was implemented in 2001. Rather than automatically defending claims that were a result of error, the system was designed to proactively look for medical errors and provide full disclosure and reasonable compensation offers to patients when at fault.

The retrospective study reviewed claims from 1995 to 2001, before implementation, to 2002 to 2007 after implantation. New legal claims, the number of lawsuits, resolution time, and liability costs all were reduced. In fact, there was a dramatic 61% decrease in spending at the UMHS on legal defense costs. 

Richard C. Boothman, chief risk officer at the University of Michigan and a coauthor of the study, said in a press statement, “This shows that over time, hospitals can afford to do the right thing. It demonstrates what we have believed to be true for some time: the sky won’t fall in by pursuing a pro-active and honest approach to medical mistakes.”

The full study, “Liability Claims and Costs Before and After Implementation of a Medical Error Disclosure Program,” is available online.


(Source: Press Release)