Massachusetts Initiative Aims to Improve Patient Relations After Medical Errors

The Massachusetts Medical Society and six healthcare organizations announced the start of a major initiative to improve the medical liability system in the state of Massachusetts.

The new alliance has launched its effort with the release of a Roadmap to Reform, an alternative approach to medical liability intended to improve patient safety, increase transparency, reduce litigation and cut costs to the healthcare system.

The Roadmap to Reform proposes a process of "Disclosure, Apology and Offer." Under the DA&O model, healthcare professionals and institutions and their insurers disclose to patient and families when unanticipated adverse outcomes occur; investigate and explain what happened; establish systems to improve patient safety and prevent the recurrence of such incidents; and, where appropriate, apologize and offer fair financial compensation without the patient resorting to legal action. Such a system will not deny patients the right to bring legal action but would make tort claims a last resort.

The DA&O approach will be tested this year in seven Massachusetts hospitals, including Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital and Baystate Medical Center.

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