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Malpractice1009 9/25/09 4:39 PM Page 1 40 Renal & Urology News OCTOBER 2009 MALPRACTICE NEWS BY ANN W. LATNER, JD available at http://www.citizen.org /documents/BackToBasics.pdf Medical Malpractice TV Ads Skyrocket Honesty and Apologies Reduce Malpractice Lawsuits Television advertising by lawyers soliciting plaintiffs in medical mal- Honesty really is the best policy, practice cases has increased nearly especially when it comes to tak- 1400% since 2004, a study found. ing responsibility and avoiding The study, commissioned by the lawsuits. That is what the Uni- U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s versity of Michigan Health Sys- Institute for Legal Reform, exam- tem (UMHS) discovered after it ined the prevalence of these ads launched an innovative program in from 2004 to 2008. The study 2002. Before then, the health sys- showed that in 2004, there were tem, like many others, had a “deny 10,150 medical malpractice ads and defend” strategy based on compared with more than 156,000 numerous fears that fueled the in 2008. Spending by lawyers and reluctance of physicians to speak law firms on this type of advertis- openly with patients about things ing has also exploded, from $3.8 that may have gone wrong, even in million to nearly $62 million during the absence of negligence. Some this time period. fears included the natural aversion JUPITERIMAGES Lisa A. Rickard, president of the to confront angry people, but for Institute for Legal Reform, said the the most part the anxiety was over finding highlights the growing role lawsuits, and concerns that discus- of medical malpractice cases in the Launched in 2002 by the University of Michigan Health System, a program asking sions might compromise court- physicians to take responsibility for mistakes has decreased malpractice suits. overall litigation landscape. “Law- room defenses or result in can- suits are ultimately a business driven celled malpractice insurance or by the plaintiffs’ bar, and when you conducted the study of malpractice n Implement safeguards and qual- raised rates. see the marketing of medical mal- ads for the Institute for Legal ity control measures to reduce med- Th
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