Doctors Detail High Costs of Fighting Malpractice Claims

Expenses reach tens of thousands even when patient receives no payout, researchers say

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Jena described another solution that might hold promise for reducing malpractice claim costs.

"The University of Michigan hospital system tested a program where they identified errors early on and proactively approached patients and said, 'This is an error that occurred and we apologize, and we'd like to compensate you,'" he said. "Malpractice lawsuits, defense costs, and the time required to resolve claims all went down." He added that this approach of early disclosure needs to be studied further.

Cardiologist Dr. Chip Lavie, medical director of cardiac rehabilitation and prevention at the John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute in New Orleans, also weighed in on the new findings.

"I believe if there was substantially less threat of medical malpractice, physicians could practice medicine in a different way, trying to be cost-effective and trying to do the right thing with what is truly best for the patient as opposed to what is the best way to maintain a good defense against any potential subsequent lawsuit," Lavie said.

More information

Visit the Institute of Medicine to see its landmark report on reducing preventable medical errors.

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