Michelle M. Mello J.D., Ph.D., M.Phil.

Professor of Law and Health Research and Policy
Stanford University
Email: mmello@law.stanford.edu Discipline: Public Health, Law

Investigator Award
Responding Justly to Patients Harmed by Medical Care: Disclosure, Compensation, and Litigation
Award Year: 2007 The Institute of Medicine's 2000 report, To Err Is Human, and the widespread media attention it received, dramatically increased awareness of the extent of medical mistakes in U.S. hospitals. Since then, a number of states and national quality organizations have adopted policies requiring or encouraging medical professionals to tell patients and families when unanticipated "adverse events" occur. Some organizations and insurers have gone even further by adopting programs through which disclosures of adverse events are accompanied by offers of compensation (known as disclosure and offer or D&O programs). Still, prompt disclosure of medical errors and fair compensation remain the exception rather than the rule. Thomas H. Gallagher, M.D. and Michelle M. Mello, J.D., Ph.D., M.Phil., seek to more fully understand the effects of disclosure initiatives and innovative D&O programs on malpractice costs and patients' access to compensation. Their project, Responding Justly to Patients Harmed by Medical Care: Disclosure, Compensation, and Litigation, explores how policy levers can be used to make disclosing errors more routine and evaluates the design and effectiveness of D&O programs. Their work should help policymakers better understand the potential of these initiatives and how they might best be integrated into broader medical liability reforms.


Michelle Mello is Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and Professor of Health Research and Policy at Stanford Medical School.  She conducts empirical research into issues at the intersection of law, ethics, and health policy.  She is the author of more than 130 articles and book chapters on the medical malpractice system, medical errors and patient safety, research ethics, the obesity epidemic, pharmaceuticals, clinical ethics, and other topics. Among other current projects, Dr. Mello is studying disclosure and compensation of medical injuries as the recipient of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Investigator Award in Health Policy Research. 

From 2000 to 2014, Dr. Mello was a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, where she directed the School’s Program in Law and Public Health. In 2013-14 she completed a Lab Fellowship at Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics. She currently serves as a Key Consultant to the National Program Office of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Public Health Law Research Program.

Dr. Mello teaches in the areas of public health law and public health ethics. She holds a J.D. from the Yale Law School, a Ph.D. in Health Policy and Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an M.Phil. from Oxford University, where she was a Marshall Scholar, and a B.A. from Stanford University.  In 2013, she was elected to the Institute of Medicine.


Honor Description
Member, Institute of Medicine, 2013