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More hospitals experimenting with fessing up after errors

With approximately 251,000 people across the United States dying every year from medical errors and malpractice, hospitals and health care organizations worry about the costs of lawsuits. Unfortunately for the victims of medical malpractice and their family members, that means it can be hard to find out what exactly went wrong.

Hospitals frequently greet requests for information with walls of silence, making litigation necessary to get some answers. This often raises costs and allows avoidable errors to persist, because hospitals do not want to acknowledge that the errors ever occurred.

An Experiment In Coming Clean

Now, supported by years of experimentation, the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is promoting a program known as CANDOR (Communication and Optimal Resolution). The new approach to addressing errors and malpractice encourages hospitals to immediately investigate cases, share their findings with the victims and offer an apology and compensation when necessary.

The program is based on research that was tested in 14 hospitals, many of which saw their litigation costs significantly drop.

Most importantly, many doctors and health care systems hope the program will improve patient safety. By coming clean and providing victims with all of the information about what went wrong, the information is already in the open, and hospitals can work to fix their mistakes.

Pro-Disclosure Efforts Still Facing Stiff Resistance

However, many doctors and insurers still say that they would never fully disclose what went wrong to their patients, fearing the disclosure will lead to a costly lawsuit.

Much of the research on approaches like CANDOR does not bear that out, however. In one case of a former police officer who ended up paralyzed after a botched disc replacement surgery, he and his surgeon now have a strong relationship because of the full disclosure. In this case, the hospital worked with the man's lawyer to negotiate a compensation package that included medical care, rehab, an expensive wheelchair and adaptations to their home.

You Still Need To Protect Your Rights

While the goals of the program are worthy of praise, it is still essential that once a hospital admits its error that you need to acquire legal representation quickly. Additionally, some participants in disclosure programs worry that hospitals will only disclose errors in cases where errors are so obvious that they know they will need to pay compensation. That means a hospital may quickly try to offer you less compensation than you deserve.

An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can guide you through the process of negotiating a settlement that truly addresses your needs. If you feel like you are the victim of malpractice, we can sit down with you and discuss your options for pursuing the compensation you deserve.

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