Science & Tech

No-fault compensation for medical injury proposed

1 min read

Would act as incentive for reporting and correcting hospital errors

Three jumbo jets filled with patients crashing every two days — that’s the analogy for the number of patients estimated to die annually from medical injury in the U.S. A big part of the problem is that the current malpractice system for compensating victims of medical injury does little to encourage hospitals to voluntarily report and correct errors in treatment. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health have proposed an alternative model of no-fault compensation. Such a system would encourage hospitals to correct mistakes — rather than trying to assign blame — and would cost no more than the current medical malpractice system, the researchers argue. Such a system is in place in Sweden, and the researchers have called for testing a Swedish-type compensation model in the U.S. “Our view is certainly optimistic,” they write, “but it is a social experiment worth undertaking if we are to decrease significantly the number of injuries caused by medical errors.” The study was supported in part by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.