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The Journal of Patient Safety and Risk Management published study of an “open” hospital system shows that a “Communication-and-Resolution Program” (CRP) cut lawsuits by two-thirds and reduced legal expenses and the time needed to resolve claims by more than 50 percent compared to before CRP was implemented. Published February 14, 2018


Objective: To investigate whether a malpractice reform known as collaborative communication resolution program can improve transparency after an adverse outcome without resulting in higher malpractice liability costs, relative to traditional “deny and defend” approaches.

Methods: Collaborative communication resolution program started at Erlanger Health System in January 2009. We compare liability outcomes before and after collaborative communication resolution program implementation. Annual liability measures evaluated were the number of filed claims, time interval to resolve an event, defense costs, settlement costs, and total liability costs. We describe the process through which events were resolved under collaborative communication resolution program.

Results: One percent of adverse events when there was no medical error received compensation under collaborative communication resolution program; no medical error occurred in 65% of adverse events; 43% of events with injury from medical error were resolved with apology alone. Compared to pre-implementation levels, there was a decrease in the average number of new claims filed (CF) (1.07 to .36, p=.004), defense costs ($41,950 to $20,623 p=.004), settlement costs ($19,480 to $14,228 p=.510), and total liability costs ($61,430 to $34,851, p=.022) under collaborative communication resolution program all measured per 1000 hospital admissions. The median time interval to resolve a claim decreased from 17 months to 8 months, a reduction of 53% (p<.001).

Conclusion: Collaborative communication resolution program implemented at Erlanger had a reduced time interval to resolve events and lower defense and total liability costs. The improved liability outcomes and the total of 43% of events with medical error resolved by apology alone, even though 60% of these patients had legal representation, may encourage physicians to support CRP.


Changes in liability claims, costs, and resolution times following the introduction of a communication-and-resolution program in Tennessee, Florence R LeCraw, Daniel Montanera, Joy P Jackson, Janice C Keys, Dale C Hetzler, Thomas A Mroz, Journal of Patient Safety and Risk Management, Vol 23, Issue 1, pp. 13 - 18