Liability claims and costs before and after implementation of a medical error disclosure program.
Physicians generally choose their words carefully when disclosing errors to patients, in large part due to fear of malpractice lawsuits. Proponents of full disclosure of errors have argued that such policies could actually decrease lawsuits by encouraging more open provider–patient communication and more fairly compensating patients for injuries. This strategy has been controversial and thus far has lacked supporting evidence, but the experiences of the University of Michigan Health System reported in this study may change attitudes toward error disclosure. In 5 years since implementing a full disclosure and compensation policy, the system has seen fewer lawsuits and lower costs related to litigation and compensation. The accompanying editorial discusses the systematic changes that will be necessary in order to make the Michigan model more generalizable.