Outcomes in two Massachusetts hospital systems give reason for optimism about communication-and-resolution programs.
Communication-and-resolution programs, in which health systems and liability insurers disclose errors, apologize, and offer compensation to patients and families, led to declines in malpractice costs in prior studies. However, some have raised concerns that actual implementation of these programs may not have the same benefits. This prospective observational study reports results following implementation of a communication-and resolution-program at four hospitals in Massachusetts. Investigators report that the program was largely implemented as intended. Less than 10% of events met criteria for compensation, and the median payment was $75,000, allaying concerns about high costs of these programs. Lawsuits occurred in 5% of cases. The authors conclude that these results support further implementation and evaluation of communication-and-resolution programs. A recent PSNet interview with Michelle Mello, the lead author of this study, discussed legal issues in patient safety.