THEIR VIEW: Doing the right thing after medical errors


Everyone is probably agreed that it can be difficult to do the right thing after making a mistake. It can be hard to admit to making a mistake and causing harm to others.

That might be especially true in cases of medical errors, when West Virginia hospitals and doctors make mistakes that can cost patients their health or even their lives.

But the University of Michigan Health System says other health care providers would do well to adopt its "Michigan Model" of responding in cases of medical errors and unintended clinical problems and outcomes.

An argument for the Michigan Model was recently laid out in a paper the prestigious health care journal, Milbank Quarterly. In it, it's argued that the model helps not only the medical staff cope with (and learn from) its mistakes, but more important, it helps patients.

The Harvard Medical School authors of the paper argue that the proactive Michigan approach gives patients the truth about medical errors rather than using the deny-deny-deny approach typical of so many medical institutions and physicians.

"By handling unanticipated and unintended incidents, and patient injuries, honestly and proactively, we've virtually eliminated groundless legal claims, allowing us to focus on issues that demand attention with clear vision and no more excuses," a University of Michigan spokesperson said.

The Michigan model includes quick and fair compensation when medical errors or other inappropriate care causes injury; a program to learn from those mistakes so that they're not repeated with other patients; and defense of clinical staff when the Michigan medical system believes care was appropriate.

It should be noted that any number of insurers and hospitals and doctors will attempt to arrive at a quick agreement with an injured patients. Those agreements should always be examined by an experienced medical malpractice attorney before any documents are signed.

The Bell Law Firm is a Charleston personal injury firm founded by Harry Bell.

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