Medical Liability Reform Begins in Massachusetts

With a research initiative begun three years ago that created a roadmap to reform, medical liability reform has now begun to unfold in Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts Alliance for Communication and Resolution following Medical Injury (MACRMI) this week announced the launch of its website detailing information on the reform efforts for Massachusetts patients and providers at www.macrmi.info.

MACRMI was formed as the result of the initiative begun in 2010 and led by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the Massachusetts Medical Society. Participants and supporters also include Baystate Health, Massachusetts Hospital Association, Massachusetts Coalition for the Prevention of Medical Errors, Medically Induced Trauma Support Services, as well as health insurers, provider organizations, and patient advocacy groups.

MACRMI has now started to implement the roadmap to reform, through a Communication, Apology, and Resolution (CARe) program (also known as disclosure, apology and offer, or DA&O), with pilot programs underway in six hospitals.

The six hospitals participating in the pilot initiative include three from the BIDMC health system (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Needham, and Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Milton); and three from Baystate Health system in Springfield (Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, and Baystate Mary Lane Hospital in Ware).

The research initiative by BIDMC and MMS was funded by a grant from the Federal Agency for Health Care Research and Quality as part of the President’s Patient Safety and Medical Liability Program.

A key step in the process was an unprecedented agreement on legislative language among the Massachusetts Medical Society, Massachusetts Bar Association, and Massachusetts Academy of Trial Lawyers. That agreement led to approval of the provisions enabling reform by the legislature and Governor and their subsequent inclusion into the payment reform bill that Governor Patrick signed last August. Among the provisions are a six-month, pre-litigation resolution period, sharing of all pertinent medical records, appropriate apology protections for providers, and full disclosure to patients.

Passage of the law made Massachusetts the first in the nation to have comprehensive legislation that will provide for the conduct of such a program in different practice environments with different insurance arrangements.

 

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