Communication, Apology and Resolution (CARe) is an alternative to costly, lengthy and emotionally difficult lawsuits after a medical injury.

How it works

When a patient experiences medical harm, hospitals and medical practices that offer CARe strive to provide as much information as possible, listen to the patient's concerns, and offer needed support. If there was a mistake which led to the injury, the patient may be offered financial compensation without having to go through a lawsuit.

CARe institutions also strive to ensure that similar situations don't happen to other patients. Providers will inform you their plans to prevent the error from happening again, and will also listen to any suggestions you may have about how it can be prevented.

Frequently asked questions

  • Do all Massachusetts health care providers use CARe?

    CARe is not currently offered everywhere. Click here to see the organizations and groups currently committed to the CARe approach.

  • I believe I was harmed as a result of medical treatment. What should I do?

    If something goes wrong during your care, work with your care team to make sure that your needs are met. If the facility has implemented CARe, they will have a process in place for this. Reach out to the patient relations department to get started.

    If they are not a part of the CARe program, you can still advocate for yourself and your loved ones. Click here for information on how to talk with your providers about your concerns, report events to the state and other organizations, and find support to help you heal.

  • Should I hire a lawyer? What if I can’t afford one?

    Depending on where the medical error occurred, a lawyer may or may not be required. However, we strongly suggest that all patients going through the CARe process be represented by a lawyer. Here is a list of attorneys in Massachusetts who have attended an educational session about CARe and committed to following CARe best practices.

    Attorneys play an important role in the advising process. They can evaluate possible compensation from the health care provider or insurer to make sure it is sufficient and can inform you of any legal issues, requirements and options. Most attorneys do not charge a fee for an initial meeting to discuss the services they can offer and how they are paid.

  • What are my rights as a patient in this process? Do I need to sign my away my right to sue?

    You have the right to full disclosure of a medical error, which includes the results of an investigation. As a patient, you have the right to opt out of the CARe process at any time. You also have the right to a lawyer.

    You do not need to "sign away" the right to sue in order to participate in the process. You can participate in all discussions and meetings, including those that involve your attorney, and still retain your right to sue. If, however you accept an offer at the end of the process, you will not be able to pursue further legal action.

  • Who decides if the harm was avoidable or not? And who determines the amount of financial compensation?

    The hospital or health care organization’s internal patient safety team will review the case. They will look at medical records and policies, and interview people involved in the event. The team will then decide if the harm was avoidable and share that information with its insurer. The insurer will conclude whether or not the harm was avoidable, and if it was, the amount of the offer of compensation.

    The patient is welcome to bring an attorney to any discussion with the insurer. Health care organizations using CARe want to work together to find a resolution, and patients having their own representatives at the table can help make that possible.

  • What happens if the harm was not avoidable?

    Even when the harm was not avoidable, the patient will still receive a full explanation of everything that happened and how the harm might impact their future. The health care workers will be there to answer patient questions about the the situation.

  • Will I get to speak directly to my doctor?

    CARe prioritizes linking patients with their health care team in open and honest conversation following an adverse event. Some doctors will be willing to talk immediately; some may need more time before they feel comfortable speaking with you. There can be a number of reasons for this, and it does not mean they are avoiding you. Each person reacts to situations differently.

  • What role can I play in the investigation? How will I be notified of the results and what they are doing to avoid similar errors in the future?

    Your input will help inform the investigation and provide an additional (and very important) point of view. We encourage you to share as much as you are comfortable with. We also hope that patients may be willing to help health care centers come up with ways to prevent a similar situation from happening again.

    When the investigation is complete, representatives from the hospital will have a discussion with you (and your family, if you choose) about the results, and answer any questions. If it was determined that the medical error was avoidable, the hospital representatives will inform you their plans to prevent the error from happening again.

  • I am going in for medical treatment soon. How can I help make sure that nothing goes wrong?

    It is important to remember that harm from medical error is rare. It is always a good idea to make sure to ask questions when you don’t understand something or want to know more. Write down instructions from the doctors or nurses and anything else you’d like to remember. Don’t be afraid to speak up or have a family member do so if something doesn’t seem right to you.

  • How do I know that CARe is effective?

    There are examples of CARe's success across the state and country. In addition to anecdotal evidence from the facilities that have implemented this model, peer-reviewed research shows the effects of CARe on malpractice claims and costs and the positive impact of open communication on patients. Additional research from the University of Michigan shows decreased patient injuries, process improvements, prompt investigation and discovery of the cause of error, and lower costs for all.

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Find an attorney

Patients are encouraged to consult with a lawyer if financial compensation is offered. Click here for a list of attorneys in Massachusetts who have committed to following CARe best practices.

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Contact your provider

See a list of facilities committed to using CARe and how to get in touch.

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Resources for patients

Here's a glossary of terms to help you better understand CARe.

Take charge of your health care with information and tools for patients.

Make sure your voice is heard by joining a Patient and Family Advisory Council.