Do written disclosures of serious events increase risk of malpractice claims? One health care system's experience.
Disclosing medical errors to patients and families is considered essential for maintaining a therapeutic relationship and a core tenet of medical professionalism, but less is known about the impact of disclosure on malpractice claims and compensation. In this study, researchers sought to understand the effect of state legislation requiring disclosure of serious events to patients. Using data from a single, large health care system, they found that although the number of serious event disclosures increased between May 2002—the year the legislation was enacted—and June 2011, the rate of malpractice claims remained stable. Claims that were disclosed and claims that involved greater harm were associated with increased compensation. An accompanying editorial highlights some of the advantages of comprehensive disclosure programs.