Disclosure, Apology, and Offer Programs: Stakeholders’ Views of Barriers to and Strategies for Broad Implementation

Context: The Disclosure, Apology, and Offer (DA&O) model, a response to patient injuries caused by medical care, is an innovative approach receiving national attention for its early success as an alternative to the existing inherently adversarial, inefficient, and inequitable medical liability system. Examples of DA&O programs, however, are few.

Methods: Through key informant interviews, we investigated the potential for more widespread implementation of this model by provider organizations and liability insurers, defining barriers to implementation and strategies for overcoming them. Our study focused on Massachusetts, but we also explored themes that are broadly generalizable to other states.

Findings: We found strong support for the DA&O model among key stakeholders, who cited its benefits for both the liability system and patient safety. The respondents did not perceive any insurmountable barriers to broad implementation, and they identified strategies that could be pursued relatively quickly. Such solutions would permit a range of organizations to implement the model without legislative hurdles.

Conclusions: Although more data are needed about the outcomes of DA&O programs, the model holds considerable promise for transforming the current approach to medical liability and patient safety.

Author(s): Sigall K. Bell, Peter B. Smulowitz, Alan C. Woodward, Michelle M. Mello, Anjali Mitter Duva, Richard C. Boothman, and Kenneth Sands

Keywords: medical liability, malpractice, patient safety, disclosure, apology, compensation

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Volume 90, Issue 4 (pages 682–705)
DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0009.2012.00679.x
Published in 2012