Oregon Pioneers Statewide Medical Error Process
Oregon residents injured by healthcare providers will be the first in the nation to be able to participate in a statewide Early Discussion and Resolution process for malpractice disputes beginning July 1.
The new program is the first state-mandated program that allows patients and their provider or facility to have discussions alone or moderated by a mediator. The technique has been successfully used at medical centers in other parts of the country to help patients and caregivers discuss and resolve harmful incidents and, ideally, avoid malpractice suits.
The Oregon Patient Safety Commission, a semi-independent state agency, will oversee the process. A patient, provider, or healthcare facility will be able to file a notice of an “adverse healthcare incident” with the commission to initiate the Early Discussion and Resolution process. The commission will contact the patient, provider, or facility for a voluntary and confidential discussion. If no resolution is reached, the commission finds a mediator. If mediation fails, the patient may bring civil action against the provider or facility.
The OPSC said its adverse event reporting program was intentionally designed to be voluntary; facilities may choose whether they wish to report adverse events. If facilities choose to participate, the reports they submit are confidential and non-discoverable according to statute. By combining voluntary reporting with protected information, the commission creates the “safe table” needed to examine, understand, and correct root causes of medical mistakes.