Changes to Iowa’s Candor law creating an extended timeline for initiating the Candor process will take effect July 1, 2020. The Candor process was created to encourage a frank discussion between a health care practitioner and a patient or patient’s family in the aftermath of a negative medical outcome resulting from either unforeseeable complications or negligence. A medical practitioner can initiate a Candor discussion to explain to the patient or family what went wrong during the care provided by the practitioner to the patient, and why. A Candor discussion may result in a settlement agreement, or simply an exchange of information, but, in the event that a patient or family chooses to file a lawsuit, the Candor process is entirely privileged and no information regarding the discussion is discoverable or can be shared with the jury.
Previously, Iowa’s Candor law required that the process be initiated no more than 180 days from the date the provider knew, or should have known, of the adverse outcome of the medical care on the patient. This timeline will be changed to a full year from when the provider knew, or should have known, of the harm to the patient.
The earlier deadline of 180 days created difficulties for patients and providers alike; while some negative medical outcomes are immediately apparent, other detrimental impacts of medical care may take longer to develop or reveal themselves. Additionally, participants in the Candor process often prefer input from legal counsel, which can further lengthen the process.
The Candor process provides a space for which patients and families can get answers and allows any settlements paid to the patient or family to remain confidential. Extending the window of availability for this process will provide more opportunity for patients and practitioners to communicate truthfully with one another.
If you have further question regarding the Candor process, contact an attorney in BrownWinick’s insurance defense group.