Outcomes In Two Massachusetts Hospital Systems Give Reason For Optimism About Communication-And-Resolution Programs
Author: Michelle M. Mello, Allen Kachalia, Stephanie Roche, Melinda Van Niel, Lisa Buchsbaum, Suzanne Dodson, Patricia Folcarelli, Evan M. Benjamin, Kenneth E. Sands
Through communication-and-resolution programs, hospitals and liability insurers communicate with patients when adverse events occur; investigate and explain what happened; and, where appropriate, apologize and proactively offer compensation. Using data recorded by program staff members and from surveys of involved clinicians, we examined case outcomes of a program used by two academic medical centers and two of their community hospitals in Massachusetts in the period 2013–15. The hospitals demonstrated good adherence to the program protocol. Ninety-one percent of the program events did not meet compensation eligibility criteria, and those events that did were not costly to resolve (the median payment was $75,000). Only 5 percent of events led to malpractice claims or lawsuits. Clinicians were supportive of the program but desired better communication about it from staff members. Our findings suggest that communication-and-resolution programs will not lead to higher liability costs when hospitals adhere to their commitment to offer compensation proactively.