A recent HHS ruling applies to a Massachusetts malpractice law promoting a new approach to dealing with medical errors.
Hospitals and health systems—not state lawmakers—will have to review their malpractice resolution programs in response to a recent Health and Human Services Department opinion on malpractice laws in Oregon and Massachusetts.
Both state programs encourage doctors to disclose medical errors, and to apologize and work with patients on potential out-of-court settlements. In response to a complaint about the Oregon law, HHS has ruled that payments under the programs need to be reported to the National Practitioner Databank.
New Hampshire recently adopted a similar approach and doctors in Georgia are working on a proposal. However, much of the activity in what one researcher calls “second-generation” malpractice reform is occurring at the hospital level, not at the state house level.
The programs go by different names: medical injury dispute resolution, sorry laws, disclosure and early offer, communication and resolution.