Liability Problems and Transparent Disclosure to Patients as a Solution

How can the understanding of the liability climate for safety reform and of differing theories and implementation of transparency be improved? The researchers addressed the following three questions: 1) How widespread are liability insurance problems that may threaten access to care and can heighten practitioner concerns about disclosure of problems? What evidence exists on the root causes of problems? 2) What are the shortcomings of even strong liability incentives in preventing avoidable injuries and in promoting patient safety? 3) What models of increased transparency exist, with what theoretical advantages and disadvantages? What are the opportunities and obstacles to their implementation? Has enough innovation occurred in disclosure and safety methods that an assessment is feasible and pre-testable? The objective was to assess two problems and one emerging solution: The problems are that malpractice insurance is perceived to be in crisis and that liability fears have not curbed high rates of medical injury but have undercut cooperation with patient safety initiatives. The solution is more “transparent” disclosure to patients of their injuries, to ease malpractice fears, increase fairness, and facilitate systemic improvements.