"Waiting two years is not fair," Jena said, and added that a quicker resolution would reduce not just the financial cost to those injured, but the emotional expense as well.
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.
Visit the Institute of Medicine to see its landmark report on reducing preventable medical errors.
SOURCES: Anupam Jena, M.D., Ph.D., senior fellow, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, and senior fellow, Schaeffer Health Policy Center, University of Southern California; Sonia Suter, M.S., J.D., associate professor of law, George Washington University Law School, Washington, D.C.; Jeffrey Segal, M.D., neurosurgeon, CEO and founder, Medical Justice, Greensboro, N.C.; Chip Lavie, M.D.,
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