New coalition offers solution to rising medical liability costs

May 1, 2005

A coalition of patients, attorneys, physicians, and hospital administrators is promoting an alternative way to control medical liability costs, in lieu of tort reform. And all it requires is an apology and an offer of fair compensation to the patient if a medical error occurred.

A coalition of patients, attorneys, physicians, and hospital administrators is promoting an alternative way to control medical liability costs, in lieu of tort reform. And all it requires is an apology and an offer of fair compensation to the patient if a medical error occurred.

The Sorry Works! Coalition, which was established in February, wants hospital administrators and physicians to review every adverse incident, and then explain to patients what happened. If a mistake was made, the hospital and physician would apologize and explain how the problem will be corrected. If the mistake involved a medical error, fair compensation would be offered to the patient, as well.

The coalition is capitalizing on a model that has been used by several hospitals for years, according to American Medical News (2/7/05). The result, according to advocates of the model, has led to better patient-physician relationships and lower legal costs. For example, at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Lexington, Ky., reportedly the first program to encourage disclosure of errors and offer up-front settlements, the facility was taken to court only three times over a period of 16 years. Moreover, while the VA Medical Center paid more claims than other VA facilities, the average amount was smaller