By Sandra B. Boodman
… Disclosure efforts also face stiff resistance from doctors, insurers and lawyers, including defense attorneys for whom speedier resolution means fewer billable hours.
Despite laws in most states that prevent apologies from being used against doctors in lawsuits, many worry that it will make patients more likely to file suit, said Thomas H. Gallagher, a University of Washington professor of medicine who has written extensively about disclosure. A recent study found that 77 percent of 300 primary-care doctors would not fully disclose a delayed breast cancer diagnosis to a patient.…
Lawyer Joanne Doroshow, director of the Center for Justice & Democracy at New York Law School, worries that disclosure programs may take advantage of vulnerable patients who are not represented by a lawyer. “The hospitals are in control of it, and it’s still in their interest to try and limit compensation to patients,” she said.
Jeffrey Catalano, a Massachusetts plaintiffs’ lawyeÅr who is president of the state bar and a participant in that state’s disclosure program, says that patients should be represented early in the process. “I think if there’s a good attorney present, there’s no way a client is going to be shortchanged,” he said. “Good attorneys know this: Medical malpractice cases are hard to take to trial. If a client can get $1 now rather than risking getting nothing [at trial] for the prospect of $1.50 later, it may be better to take the $1 now.”
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