Effects of a communication-and-resolution program on hospitals’ malpractice claims and costs

Allen Kachalia, Kenneth Sands, Melinda Van Niel, Suzanne Dodson, Stephanie Roche, Victor Novack, Maayan Yitshak-Sade, Patricia Folcarelli, Evan M. Benjamin, Alan C. Woodward, Michelle M. Mello

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    17 Scopus citations

    Abstract

    To promote communication with patients after medical injuries and improve patient safety, numerous hospitals have implemented communication-and-resolution programs (CRPs). Through these programs, hospitals communicate transparently with patients after adverse events; investigate what happened and offer an explanation; and, when warranted, apologize, take responsibility, and proactively offer compensation. Despite growing consensus that CRPs are the right thing to do, concerns over liability risks remain. We evaluated the liability effects of CRP implementation at four Massachusetts hospitals by examining before-and-after trends in claims volume, cost, and time to resolution and comparing them to trends among nonimplementing peer institutions. CRP implementation was associated with improved trends in the rate of new claims and legal defense costs at some hospitals, but it did not significantly alter trends in other outcomes. None of the hospitals experienced worsening liability trends after CRP implementation, which suggests that transparency, apology, and proactive compensation can be pursued without adverse financial consequences.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1836-1844
    Number of pages9
    JournalHealth Affairs
    Volume37
    Issue number11
    DOIs
    StatePublished - 1 Nov 2018

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