Patient Safety & Medical Liability Reform Initiative

Too many patients experience significant challenges with health care quality and patient safety, and neither injured patients nor health care providers are well served by the current medical liability system. To address this dilemma, President Obama's health care reform efforts called for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to investigate ways to improve medical liability while increasing patient safety. In 2009, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), part of HHS, established a $25 million Medical Liability Reform & Patient Safety Initiative to conduct this research.

AHRQ funded $23 million in planning and demonstration grants through the initiative. The grants were designed to help States and health care systems test models to reform medical liability and patient safety while meeting the following goals:

  • Put patient safety first and work to reduce preventable injuries.
  • Foster better communication between doctors and their patients.
  • Ensure that patients are compensated in a fair and timely manner for medical injuries while also reducing the incidence of frivolous lawsuits.
  • Reduce liability premiums.

Communication and Optimal Resolution Toolkit

Based on expert input and lessons learned from the Patient Safety and Medical Liability grant initiative, AHRQ funded a $3 million contract to develop and test a Communication and Optimal Resolution (CANDOR) toolkit. The CANDOR process helps health care institutions and providers respond in a timely, thorough, and just way when unexpected events cause patient harm. It was tested in 14 hospitals across three U.S. health systems.

Select for the CANDOR Toolkit.

Advances in Patient Safety and Medical Liability

Under the Patient Safety and Medical Liability Initiative, AHRQ funded 13 planning grants and 7 demonstration grants; the goal was to help States and health systems seek comprehensive solutions that improve patient safety and address the underlying causes of the malpractice problem. Advances in Patient Safety and Medical Liability presents contributions and findings from the AHRQ-funded projects. In addition to a prologue, the volume includes two commentaries and nine papers, organized into two primary themes: improving communication and improving patient safety.

Related Reports

Select to access the 2016 Longitudinal Evaluation of the Patient Safety and Medical Liability Reform Demonstration Program Planning and Demonstration Grant Evaluation Reports.

Select to access the 2014 progress report, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Patient Safety and Medical Liability Initiative: Summary of Findings, which provides an update on the seven funded demonstration projects.

Select to access the 2012 Medical Liability Reform and Patient Safety Initiative Progress Report on the demonstration and planning grants.

Page last reviewed August 2017
Page originally created February 2012
Internet Citation: Patient Safety & Medical Liability Reform Initiative. Content last reviewed August 2017. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/quality-patient-safety/patient-safety-resources/resources/liability/index.html