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Apologizing for Medical Errors Makes Good Business Sense, Lawyer Says

Posted Jul 21, 2009 11:09 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Medical malpractice defense lawyer Richard Boothman says admitting mistakes is not only the right thing to do—it’s also a good business strategy.

Boothman, chief risk officer for the University of Michigan Health System, wrote about the cost savings of an early apology and compensation for medical malpractice victims in an article he co-wrote for the Journal of Health & Life Sciences Law, the Associated Press reports.

Boothman says malpractice claims against the health system dropped from 121 in 2001 to 61 in 2006, and the backlog of open claims fell from 262 to 106 in the same period. From 2001 to 2007, the costs for each claim fell by half.

"What we are doing is common decency," Boothman told AP.

Jim Copland, director of the Manhattan Institute's Center for Legal Policy, says a system of early apologies won’t work unless states pass laws protecting doctors for their honesty. Laws under consideration in several states would shield doctors by barring the admission of apologies as evidence in malpractice suits, according to the story.

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