Medical Error Disclosure Program Cuts Costs, Claims

The implementation of a medical error disclosure program can reduce claim rates and costs, according to a recent analysis of the University of Michigan Health System's program.

The implementation of a medical error disclosure program can reduce claim rates and costs, according to a recent analysis. The study was published in the April 2014 issue of The American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Megan A. Adams, MD, and colleagues analyzed the effect the University of Michigan Health System’s medical error disclosure program, implemented in 2001, had on gastroenterology (GI)-related claims and costs. They reviewed claims data, including incident date, date of resolution, and total liability dollars, and they compared the mean total liability per claim in the pre- and post-implementation eras.

The investigators reviewed 650,855 GI encounters, 36.7% occurred during the pre-implementation era and 63.3% of which occurred post-implementation. Of the 66 encounters resulting in claims, fewer occurred in the post-implementation era (28 claims) than the pre-implementation era (38 claims) despite the fact that there were far more overall encounters in the post-implementation era.

Of the total numbers of claims, 15.2% alleged a delay in diagnosis or a misdiagnosis, 42.4% related to a procedure, and 42.4% involved improper management, treatment, or monitoring. The time to claim resolution was reduced from 1,000 days to 460 days as a result of implementation of the medical error disclosure program. Furthermore, the mean total liability per claim decreased from $167,309 before the program to $81,107 after (95% confidence interval).

“Implementation of a novel medical error disclosure program, promoting transparency and quality improvement, not only decreased the number of GI-related claims per patient encounter, but also dramatically shortened the time to claim resolution,” concluded the authors.