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PSNet: Patient Safety Network
Journal Article

Disclosure-and-resolution programs that include generous compensation offers may prompt a complex patient response.

Murtagh L, Gallagher TH, Andrew P, et al. Health Aff (Millwood). 2012;31(12):2681-2689.

Some institutions have implemented disclosure-and-resolution programs whenever an error occurs, in which the error is fully disclosed to patients, the clinician apologizes, and financial compensation is offered when appropriate. Early data indicates that this approach may reduce malpractice lawsuits, and another survey found that patients who had confidence that their physicians would appropriately disclose errors were less likely to sue. However, this vignette-based survey study found that offering full financial compensation to patients after errors actually increased mistrust between patients and clinicians and increased the likelihood that a patient would seek legal advice, even though most patients desired some form of compensation. The authors conclude that institutions should consider separating error disclosure and offers of compensation in order to minimize the perception of conflict of interest.