Letter to the Editor: Resolution Systems May Not Help

Wall Street Journal
Friday, May 22, 2015

“Communication and resolution” systems are designed primarily to serve the interests of hospitals.

In their op-ed “The ‘Michigan Model’ for Malpractice Reform” (May 11), Allen Kachalia and Sanjay Saint tout a “communication and resolution” program for handling medical malpractice claims. They say a University of Michigan Health System program reduced medical malpractice claims by 36% and compensation costs by 59%. Claims and costs may be down, but with preventable medical errors going up and up, at whose expense?

Dr. Steve Kraman, who founded the first “communication and resolution” program years ago at the Lexington (Ky.) VA Medical Center, now says patients are greatly shortchanged by most such systems. Such programs have become little more than systems to manipulate injured patients and prevent them from getting full compensation for injuries they suffered. Good programs insist that patients be represented by counsel before hospital lawyers or risk managers may approach them to resolve a case. However, most programs, including the University of Michigan system, don’t require this.

“Communication and resolution” systems are designed primarily to serve the interests of hospitals’ risk managers by minimizing legitimate malpractice claims. If someone is injured and the responsible hospital doesn’t pay, injuries don’t disappear. Medicaid and other government programs may have to help the victim. In other words, hospital costs may be down, but it’s the taxpayer who’s picking up the tab.

Joanne Doroshow
New York

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