Medical Liability Reform and Patient Safety: Planning Grants

Medical Liability Reform and Patient Safety

The National Advisory Council for Healthcare Research and Quality provides advice and recommendations to AHRQ's director and to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on priorities for a national health services research agenda.

Planning Grants


The planning grants for the Patient Safety and Medical Liability Initiative give States and health systems the opportunity to create detailed plans for patient safety and medical liability reform. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) funded 13 planning grants for a total amount of $3.5 million.


The planning grants for the Patient Safety and Medical Liability Initiative give States and health systems the opportunity to create detailed plans for patient safety and medical liability reform. AHRQ funded 13 planning grants for a total amount of $3.5 million.

These 13 grants represent a variety of models that meet one or more of the patient safety and medical liability reform goals, including 11 that are intended to reduce preventable medical injuries in a variety of ways. The planning grants include:

  • Supporting the development of a "safe harbor" for physicians who can prove they followed State-endorsed evidence-based care guidelines.
  • Promoting shared decisionmaking.
  • Supporting early disclosure and offer models, which inform injured patients and families promptly, and make efforts to provide prompt compensation.
  • Promoting transparency and enhanced communication between providers and patients when avoidable injuries occur.

Lynn Marie Crider, J.D., Office for Oregon Health Policy and Research, Portland, OR, $299,458

This project will develop and implement a method for setting priorities for developing evidence-based practice guidelines, craft a broadly supported safe harbor legislative proposal that will define the legal standard of care, and develop a plan to evaluate the effectiveness of the legislative proposal, if enacted.

Richard David, M.D., Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, $293,224

This project will develop a measurement and analysis system to monitor the quality of care at hospital discharge to identify safety concerns and improve patient safety, and to alert Johns Hopkins leaders in real time of events that place the health care organization at risk for malpractice claims and to identify patient safety problems.

Dianne Garcia, J.D., Multicare Health System, Tacoma, WA, $291,810

The project will develop a plan for implementing an integrated medical liability and patient safety program based on identifying avoidable patient safety problems, and providing an acknowledgement, apology, and standardized compensation to patients who have been harmed or their families.

Wendell Hoffman, M.D., Sanford Research, Sioux Falls, SD, $294,137

This project will develop the infrastructure for implementing a patient advocacy reporting system throughout a multi-state, multi-facility system. This would include improving the collection of information on patients' and families' concerns about their care and identifying the parts of the system and individual physicians with disproportionate risk for unsafe care and possible lawsuits.

Elizabeth Guenther, M.D., M.P.H., University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, $299,994

This project will implement and evaluate a system-wide evidence-based, ethical, and legally sound policy on disclosing safety issues and other unanticipated outcomes of care. The goal is to develop a standardized protocol that will be used for disclosure of these events to patients and their families.

Karen Domino, M.D., M.P.H., University of Washington, Seattle, WA, $295,837

This project will develop and implement patient-friendly shared decisionmaking tools and processes for patients undergoing orthopaedic surgery in the University of Washington Health Care System. Shared decisionmaking improves patient safety by enhancing patient understanding and empowering patients to actively participate in the care.

David Baker, Ph.D., Carilion Medical Center, Roanoke, VA, $280,924

The project examines how improved teamwork—through better communication among providers, patients, and patients' families—can improve the quality of obstetrical care and patient safety and reduce risk and liability claims.

Kenneth Sands, M.D., M.P.H., Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA, $273,782

The main goal of the project is to develop a roadmap for implementation of a "disclosure-and-offer" patient safety initiative in Massachusetts, which may be applicable to other states. The ultimate goal is to create a new medical liability system that improves patient and provider trust, reduces fear, and improves patient safety.

Nicoletta Tessler, M.A., Psy.D., Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miami, FL, $299,576

This project will develop and pilot a model to reduce patient suicides and suicide attempts at its health system by focusing on staff training, patient care, environmental safety, and incident reporting. The project is also designed to gather information through surveys and focus groups from internal and external stakeholders to generate recommendations of how medical liability can be restructured to improve the production and use of information about quality and safety.

Cynthia Shellhaas, M.D., M.P.H., Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, $187,437

This project will plan an effective statewide pregnancy-associated mortality review ("PAMR") system in Ohio and develop comprehensive, coordinated statewide recommendations with short- and long-term, evidence-based interventions focusing on patient safety to address maternal mortality and disparities. PAMR is a good example of a process where a focus on patient safety and prevention of adverse events could lead to improvement in both health care system operations and clinical care. This could, in turn, decrease the potential for medical liability claims.

John Buckley, M.D., Wishard Health Services, Indianapolis, IN, $154,124

The project will collect, analyze, and evaluate data regarding Wishard Health Services' Claims Management Model to promote open communication and identify risk-prone areas, ultimately increasing patient safety by removing risks early.

Cindy Lou Corbett, Ph.D., Washington State University, Pullman,WA, $298,810

This project will use stakeholder focus groups to design best practice medication risk management systems that can be integrated into transitional care. Upon successful completion, researchers expect to demonstrate that they can integrate medication risk management efforts into transitional care models to maximize safety, quality, and cost-effectiveness while reducing medical liability.

Steven Crane, M.D., NC State/Department HHS, Raleigh, NC, $297,710

The goal of this project is to better understand the barriers, facilitators, and results of implementing a near-miss reporting and improvement tracking system in primary care. This project will also explore the potential of using near-miss events to increase providers' confidence and experience disclosing errors to patients, and to determine whether these disclosures decrease the likelihood that patients seek legal advice and file malpractice claims.

Page last reviewed June 2010
Internet Citation: Medical Liability Reform and Patient Safety: Planning Grants: Medical Liability Reform and Patient Safety. June 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/quality-patient-safety/patient-safety-resources/resources/liability/planninggrants.html