A recent NY Times articles sums up articles over more than two decades which show that better communication, rather than more testing, reduce malpractice lawsuits.
To Be Sued Less, Doctors Should Consider Talking to Patients More
As far back as 1989, a study of obstetricians in Florida found that about 6 percent of obstetricians accounted for more than 70 percent of all malpractice-related expenses over a five-year period… Doctors who are sued are different in some way from those who aren’t…Some doctors were more likely to be sued, regardless of whether the cases against them were eventually found to have merit…
Doctors sued most often were complained about by patients twice as much as those who were not, and poor communication was the most common complaint…
At the University of Michigan about 15 years ago, a program was begun to improve communication around medical errors. When errors occurred, the program encouraged physicians to tell patients about them, how they happened, and what would be done to make them less likely to occur in the future. Doctors were also encouraged to apologize, and offer compensation for harm if it occurred.
A study of the program published in 2010 found that in the years after it began claims dropped 36 percent, and lawsuits dropped 65 percent. The monthly cost of total liability and patient compensation dropped 59 percent, and legal costs dropped by 61 percent.
A later study, published last year, looked at how the program affected gastroenterology claims and costs. It found that despite a 72 percent increase in clinical activity, the rate of claims per patient encounters dropped 58 percent…The total cost to the health care system of malpractice in gastroenterology decreased by 64 percent.
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