In our previous post, we began discussing the so-called Michigan Model, or the approach to patient safety and physician accountability that has been in place at the University of Michigan Health System since 2001. The Michigan Model has gained attention because of the improvements it has made in terms of reducing the medical malpractice claims, plaintiff payouts, malpractice costs, and resolution time.
The success of the program, to be sure, is attributable to multiple factors, including the fact that Michigan state law requires a six-month cooling off period before malpractice litigation may proceed, which allows greater opportunity for out-of-court resolution of claims. Another factor is that all physicians in the health system are insured against malpractice claims by the system itself, which allows for greater control over the cost of malpractice insurance.
According to the University of Michigan Health System, the basic approach of the system can be summarized as follows: “Apologize and learn when we’re wrong, explain and vigorously defend when we’re right, and view court as a last resort.” Most importantly, this approach involves forthright communication from physicians, which allows patients to have a much better and more timely understanding of what caused their injuries, as well as active efforts to resolve the matter quickly.
Much could be said about this approach and the specific policies by which it is implemented, but we want consider how a medical malpractice plaintiff might learn from this approach where he or she did not benefit from the specific policies used by the University of Michigan Health System. We’ll pick up on this point in our next post.