Transparency is somewhat of a buzzword right now in the health care industry when it comes to addressing the issue of medical errors. There is good reason for this. Not only can effective communication with patients about medical errors allow patients and their families to have a better experience of care, it can also potentially reduce the costs associated with medical care by reducing the incidence of medical malpractice litigation.
While the so-called Michigan Model has long been known in this state, the general approach of more transparency in the wake of medical error has picked up steam in other areas of the nation as well. The military is also aware of the benefits of the approach, and the Department of Defense is currently looking to expand a program begun in 2001 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to various other military medical facilities.
The program goes by the name Healthcare Resolutions, and is designed to facilitate better communication between physicians and their patients when errors occur and to develop action plans so that errors aren’t repeated. Patients have the ability to request information related to their case and to participate in mediation sessions to resolve any disputes. The program is not aimed so much at preventing patients from pursuing medical malpractice litigation, but at coordinating an alternative approach to resolving cases of medical error.
For patients who are injured by a military physician, it is important to realize physicians employed by the federal government do enjoy legal protection from medical malpractice liability. That doesn’t mean, however, that patients who are injured by a negligent government physician have no means of pursuing compensation.
In our next post, we’ll continue discussing this issue.