A Different Take on the New Murtagh Study on MedMal Disclosures, and A Few Thoughts on Friendly Attorneys

By Christopher Robertson

On these pages, Michelle Mello recently posted a discussion of her new article with Lindsey Murtagh, Thomas Gallagher, and Penny Andrew, called “Disclosure-And-Resolution Programs That Include Generous Compensation Offers May Prompt A Complex Patient Response.”

In this vignette-based online study, the authors put respondents in clinical scenarios with medical errors, and then added experimental conditions where the error was simply confessed, or confessed with an offer of waiver of the medical bills, with an offer to reimburse a limited amount of out-of-pocket expenses related (specifying $25,000 out of pocket plus $5,000 lost time), or with an offer of “full compensation.”  As the headline suggests, the authors conclude that offers of full compensation may be sometimes be bad ideas for self-interested hospitals.  I’m a big fan of this sort of vignette-based research, because it allows randomized manipulation that is impossible in observational field research.  Still, allow me to offer some of my own questions and interpretations below the fold.

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Upcoming event: Lecture on Hormonally Active Pollutants by Joan Ruderman

Tuesday, 5pm

Sheerr Room, Fay House

10 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA

Joan Ruderman will be giving a talk titled, “Hormonally Active Pollutants: What Are They, What Can They Do, and How Do We Know They’re Out There?” Here is a summary of her talk:

Over the past few decades, an increasing number of chemicals that were designed for one purpose have now been found to have the surprising, additional ability to mimic hormones like estrogen. Examples of such chemicals, often called environmental estrogens, include certain pesticides, plasticizers, detergents, and compounds added to personal care products. There is growing concern that everyday exposures to these chemicals, and to others yet to be discovered, are contributing to increases in reproductive abnormalities, infertility, and estrogen-dependent cancers in both males and females. Previously identified environmental estrogens show little structural similarity to estrogen, making it impossible to predict simply on the basis of structure alone which other chemicals may also be estrogenic. Transgenic zebrafish embryos can play a unique role in screening chemicals that mimic estrogen.

The website for this lecture series can be found here. Hope to see you there! ~YK