Roscoe Pound Institute

Some of you are familiar with the Rosoce Pound Institute, an organization founded in 1956 which works to “help judges, academics and others understand a balanced view of the U.S. civil justice system.”

Last week, the Institute held a conference at Vanderbilt University School of Law on the issue of medical negligence. Friday afternoon I had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion about patient safety. Joining me on the panel were Sandy Bledsoe, a nurse by training and now the #2 person in Vanderbilt’s Risk Management Department, Dr. Paul Keckley, the head of Vanderbilt’s Center for Evidence-Based Medicine, and Dr. Gerald Hickson, Director of the Center for Patient and Professional Advocacy.

I was happy to learn about the substantial effort Vanderbilt is making in attempting to reduce patient injuries and claims. The CPPA identifies physcians who are the subject of patient complaints and works with them to approve their skills in communicating with patients. Dr. Hickson has taken this program around the country; I believe he said that his team has been to 18 other institutions with this concept. Dr. Hickson has worked in conjunction with the Risk Managment Department at Vanderbilt.

Dr. Keckley’s efforts are an attempt to improve patient safety and lower costs by bringing more science to the decision-making process of medicine. The results are physician use of guidelines for the practice of medicine based on evidence rather than a physcian simply relying “gut” instinct or what he or she has done in the past. This is a massive effort but one that will undoubtedly improve patient safety.

As a medical malpractice lawyer representing patients I sometimes forget that their are institutions and doctors out there who want to eliminate lawsuits the right way – by eliminating injuries and deaths – as opposed to simply cutting off the rights of victims by legislative efforts. I applaud the efforts of Dr. Hickman and Dr. Keckley and hope that their efforts will result in a reduction of the number of injuries and deaths from medical errors.