Will patient advocates and healthcare transparency change healthcare law?


Leilani Schweitzer shared her emotional experience about losing her child at Stanford University Hospital. The machines that her baby was hooked up to kept on alarming and she could not get any rest. She thanked the nurse that offered to turn the alarms off and finally fell asleep. When she woke up to a code blue event, she knew that she had lost her child. She later found out that when the nurse turned the alarms off, she had turned them off for every workstation and alert notification system in the whole hospital without knowing. How did she find this out?

Patient liaisons at Stanford Health Care (SHC) are spearheading healthcare transparency when an unanticipated event takes place. Instead of shutting down and ignoring family inquiries, hospital risk departments are conducting internal investigations in which open communication with the patient’s family members is paramount. Leilani Schwietzer is now the Risk Authority Stanford’s Assistant Vice President, Communication and Resolution, and has become the face of this movement.

Stanford conducted a study on Communication, Apology and Resolution (CARe) program, which revealed no increase in lawsuits and lower compensation for filed lawsuits. Hospitals, including Hospital Sisters Health System, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Baystate Medical Center, are following Stanford’s lead with communication and resolution programs.

Much like SHC, the Oregon Patient Safety Commission (OSPC) has explored ways to reduce costs and increase patient access through transparency, communication and early disclosure. The Early Discussion and Resolution (EDR) Program offers an alternative to the typical medical screening panels, mediation, and arbitration aimed at dispute-resolution. The program is still in its early stages, but the confidential discussion space has been critical for a successful resolution.

Personal injury and medical malpractice attorneys can relate to the emotional turmoil that patient families must endure and can help simplify and shorten the litigation process by understanding the types and sources of discovery available. Cases may incur less burn if plaintiff and defense attorneys can agree on a discovery plan, which identifies data sources, responsible data stewards, and the format of the expected data. Healthcare litigation consultants can help craft, validate, and execute discovery plans. Alternative dispute resolution, mediation, and discovery plans might be a trend worth paying attention to.

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EMR Discovery offers healthcare litigation support services for plaintiff medical malpractice firms. EMRD's expertise includes EMR/EHR, Audit Trails, healthcare information systems, eDiscovery support, and analytical document review solutions. EMRD delivers a customized approach to fit each unique case.

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