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The Honesty Policy

 

continued

problems: admitting its mistakes.

The goal of the "Michigan Model" is to limit errors by acknowledging and learning from them. Apologizing to patients and offering follow-up care and sometimes financial compensation also makes them less likely to sue. On the other hand, if a UMHS investigation concludes the medical staff did all that they could, the system will stand behind its employees.

That response, which medical researchers call "communication and resolution," might seem obvious. But until recently the trend in the medical world was very different. The typical response to malpractice lawsuits was to deny that anything was done wrong and prepare a legal defense. Yet even if administrators believed their staff was blameless, they might pay a settlement if it was cheaper than going to court.

Tacked on the wall of Rick Boothman's office is a quote from George Orwell: "In a time of universal deceit--telling the truth is a revolutionary act." The UMHS's chief risk officer developed the Michigan Model after concluding that the old "deny and defend" approach eroded the faith of doctors, patients, and hospital administrators in one another.

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