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Pre-exempting lawsuits: Status report from Mass.

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The Massachusetts State House

The Massachusetts State House.

Kaiser Health News gives a status report on a new Massachusetts law that seeks to pre-exempt lawsuits by “establishing a process and timeframe for discussing mistakes.”

The law mandates that possible plaintiffs  give healthcare providers six months notice if they intend to sue.

“{I}nterest in non-traditional types of medical liability reform has been growing, spurred on by dissatisfaction with so-called ‘deny and defend’ adversarial systems that often result in lengthy and expensive legal proceedings when a medical error occurs,” Kaiser noted.

”In addition to the six-month ‘cooling off’ period before a suit can be filed, the law requires that patients be told when medical mistakes are made that result in unexpected complications and allows providers to apologize for unanticipated outcomes without fear their words will be used against them in court.”

The University of Michigan’s communication and resolution program was a basis for the Massachusetts reform.


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