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205 Motivate clinicians to use patient decision aids by showing how they reduce medical liability risk
  1. Thaddeus Mason Pope
  1. Mitchell Hamline School of Law, Saint Paul, Minnesota USA

Abstract

Introduction Legal doctrines of medical malpractice and informed consent have failed to assure that patients understand the risks, benefits, and alternatives to the healthcare they receive. Most patients lack an adequate understanding of their treatment options. But clinicians’ profound of dread liability claims can motivate them to use PDAs.

Methods The authors conducted systematic reviews on both (1) research on the benefits of PDA use and (2) research on medical liability risk. They then correlated PDA benefits with types of legal risk.

Results PDAs reduce liability risk from negligent nondisclosure (informed consent) in three ways.

First, using PDAs sometimes earns clinicians a ‘shield’ from liability.

Second, failing to use PDAs will increasingly be used as a ‘sword’ to find clinicians liable.

Third, PDAs lower risk through better documentation.

While PDAs can most obviously mitigate liability from negligent nondisclosure, they also mitigate liability from other types of medical malpractice claims unrelated to negligent nondisclosure (informed consent). They do this in three ways.

First, PDAs result in better outcomes (e.g., from better adherence), and patients with better outcomes bring fewer claims.

Second, PDAs result in more satisfied patients, and satisfied patients bring fewer claims.

Third, even when patients have adverse outcomes, they are less likely to have the surprise and anger that motivates them to bring claims.

Discussion PDAs not only benefit patients, but they also benefit clinicians and healthcare entities. PDAs materially reduce the risk of liability both from negligent non-disclosure and from other types of medical malpractice claims. This should help design implementation incentives. For example, professional liability insurance carriers can nudge clinicians to use PDAs with their patient by offering the monetary incentive of insurance premium reductions.

Conclusion Using PDAs improves patient safety and reduces medical liability risk.

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