Seven hospitals in Massachusetts have finally come to believe something that lawyers may say is pretty obvious: It is better if doctors and hospitals admit their medical mistakes up front to patients and try to pay them fair compensation for injuries they have caused.
Under a new program they just adopted, the Massachusetts hospitals are encouraging doctors and nurses to notify their superiors of medical errors, and then the hospital administration will conduct a prompt investigation. If they conclude that a preventable medical mistake led to a patient's injury, they will make attempts to settle the claim without litigation. Here's a link to the announcement. http://bostonglobe.com/metro/2012/04/18/mass-hospitals-promise-openness-apologies/z7HH8c8J1aPUf2d4lYggvM/story.html
If this program works as intended, there are some obvious benefits to both sides. The doctors and hospitals avoid lengthy and costly litigation and the patients receive prompt compensation for their injury. Some people doubt, however, that the program will actually work. They believe that the hospitals or their insurance companies will try to "settle cheap" by offering less than fair value for the injuries caused. That is why it would be very important for patients who are approached by hospitals about settlement of a claim to contact a medical malpractice lawyer. Let them evaluate the claim and negotiate with the hospital if necessary.
No one wants to be involved in lengthy litigation if it can be avoided. Therefore, it is always better if two sides can negotiate a settlement, but the reality is that many times hospital do not admit their mistakes and patients must hire lawyer to fight and establish fault through the court system. In those situations, a jury may ultimately decide whether the doctor or hospital did something wrong.
In the end, whether the case can be settled quickly or will involve lengthy litigation, the patient is always well-served to have an experienced medical malpractice lawyer at their side.