Richard C. Boothman

Executive Director of Clinical Safety at the University of Michigan Health System

In July, 2001, trial attorney Rick Boothman left a busy malpractice defense practice in Michigan and Ohio to join the University of Michigan Health System, intent on establishing a new approach to medical malpractice. Reasoning that by prioritizing patient safety over traditional claims management practices patient injuries and claims would drop, communication would improve, and the interests of all involved in the intimate business of delivering health care would be better served, he worked to develop an approach that would come to be known as the Michigan Model.

Improving patient safety relies unquestionably on honesty. Contrary to conventional beliefs however, Rick reasoned that the same honesty would have a favorable claims impact, relegating litigation to its intended role: as a last resort to resolving claims that could not be resolved amicably. He led the re-design of their process based on three simple, but incontestable principles: to compensate patients quickly and fairly when unreasonable care injured them, to support caregivers vigorously when their care was reasonable, and most importantly, to learn and improve through patients’ experiences. Rick and others at UMHS are now actively leveraging the benefits derived from the transparency to other issues including bold innovations in peer review and creative corporate reorganization designed to more effectively capture and respond to patient safety challenges.

The U of M’s open and honest approach to patient injuries and its impact on patient safety and claims has garnered national and international attention. It has been featured on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition with Scott Simon, All Things Considered, and Marketplace, the New England Journal of Medicine, CBS News, CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, BBC radio and the Korean Broadcasting System among many others. In 2005, Rick advised then Senators Clinton and Obama in the formulation of legislation called the MEDiC Act. At the invitation of Chairman, Senator Michael Enzi (R-WY) he testified before the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in 2006. He is currently advising a task force organized by Oregon’s governor to address the dual problems of patient injury and malpractice. Rick consults on several research initiatives funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Patient Safety and Medical Liability Reform program. He sits on the Board of Governors for the National Patient Safety Foundation and the Board of Directors for the Michigan Hospital Association’s Patient Safety Organization. He has consulted for many academic and non-academic health care systems and hospitals.

Rick has delivered scores of presentations for groups and audiences around the country. In 2008, he was recognized by Midwest In-House Counsel magazine and Michigan Lawyer’s Weekly with their Leader in the Law Award and he received the Paul R. Venzke Award for Excellence in Risk Management from the Michigan Society of Health Care Risk Managers. Rick and others have published their experience and results in the American Health Lawyer’s Journal of Health and Life Sciences Law, the Annals of Internal Medicine, Frontiers of Health Services Management, a journal of the American College of Healthcare Executives and the Milbank Quarterly.

Rick serves at the Executive Director of Clinical Safety at the University of Michigan Health System. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and the University Of Detroit School Of Law. Rick lives with his wife, Karen and family in Ann Arbor.