FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2013-01-09
Some hospitals are taking part in a new initiative that aims to increase the level of trust between doctors and patients. The plan, referred to as the Disclosure, Apology and Offer approach to medical care, encourages doctors and nurses to admit medical errors to patients in an attempt to reduce the rate of medical malpracticelitigation.
The initiative calls for a prompt admission of mistake and apology from the responsible medical professional or hospital along with a financial settlement offer to compensate the patient for any harm or injury resulting from the mistake.
Those in support of the program argue it will decrease the cost of health care by lowering the rate of medical malpractice litigation while those against the plan are concerned it takes advantage of injured patients by settling with a much lower compensation rate then the victim may require to cover the costs associated with healing from medical injury.
How the Program Works
Any medical professional who suspects an error can report it. Once reported, an investigation will be conducted to determine whether there was an error. If the investigation finds a medical error occurred, further research will be done to determine whether the error was the result of a physician’s mistake, poor hospital policy or other issue. The hospital will then work with malpractice insurers to calculate a monetary award to offer the patient.
Once the monetary award is determined, an apology will be issued to the patient along with the offer for compensation.
How the Program Impacts Patients’ Rights
Patients that choose to accept an offer surrender their right to sue the hospital, physician, nurse or other medical professional for the wrongdoing that led to their injury. As a result, it is important to have any offer thoroughly reviewed by an attorney before accepting.
An experienced medical malpractice attorney can offer assistance by reviewing the settlement and helping the patient determine if the offer is adequate for the injury. The patient can then use that information to determine if they would prefer to accept the offer or pursue other legal channels, such as filing a lawsuit for negligence or other medical malpractice claims.
If you or a loved one is injured during a medical procedure, it is important to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney to discuss your legal rights and better ensure your potential remedies are protected.