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U-M's efforts to encourage disclosure of medical errors decreased claims
Date:8/16/2010

officer at the University of Michigan and a co-author of the study, says the research proves that a policy of fully disclosing errors does not appear lead to skyrocketing medical costs.

"This shows that over time, hospitals can afford to do the right thing," Boothman says. "It demonstrates what we have believed to be true for some time: the sky won't fall in by pursuing a pro-active and honest approach to medical mistakes."

But Boothman adds that reducing costs is not the main motivation behind the U-M policy. Changing the culture to encourage caregivers to admit mistakes also has improved patient safety, which is much more difficult to measure, he says.

"We cannot improve if we're not honest about mistakes. By engaging the patient early and mostly listening more than talking at first we get a fuller view of what happened, a better view of what it looked like to the patient, facts that may not be apparent from the chart alone. Engaging patients and families early even before we have reached our own conclusions allows us to get a more accurate view of what happened and provides the opportunity to correct any misimpressions and misunderstandings for everyone concerned," says Boothman.

"We are all in this together. We support our staff best by being honest about mistakes because without that honesty, we'll never fix the problem, other patients may get hurt and we'll expose our staff to that heartbreak again, too. Honesty is the key to improving and hurting no one else is the best risk management I can imagine."


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Contact: Mary Masson
mfmasson@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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