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Marie Bismark

2004-05 Harkness Fellow Legal Adviser & Researcher Health & Disability Commissioner (Wellington)

Harkness Project Title: Relations Between Adverse Events, Complaints and No-Fault Compensation Claims in New Zealand

Mentors: Troyen Brennan, MD, JD, PhD, Brigham and Women's Hospital/Harvard Medical School, and David Studdert, LL.B., Sc.D., M.P.H., Harvard School of Public Health Ph.D.

Placement: Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health

Biography at time of Harkness Fellowship: Marie Bismark, a 2004–05 Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy, is a doctor and lawyer from New Zealand who works at the interface between law, medicine and healthcare policy. During her fellowship, her landmark research explored alternatives to medical malpractice litigation, with a particular focus on healthcare mediation and no-fault compensation. Bismark is currently direct of New Zealand's No-Fault Accident Compensation Scheme and is also a senior solicitor with Buddle Findlay, a leading New Zealand law firm. She has previously practiced as a medical doctor in several New Zealand hospitals, served as a legal advisor to the New Zealand Health and Disability Commissioner, and taught at Otago Medical School and Victoria University Faculty of Law. Bismark serves on the Wellington Law Society's Ethics Committee and the New Zealand Law Society's Health Law Committee.

Project: Bismark’s project examined “no-fault” systems for compensating patients injured due to an adverse medical event, such as exists in New Zealand.  Specifically, she determined the proportion of eligible New Zealand patients who claim compensation, and the socioeconomic characteristics of those who do not claim compensation.  A national dataset of compensation claims was linked with adverse event data from the New Zealand Quality of Healthcare Study. Probabilistic matching of these two datasets permitted estimation of how frequently adverse events, as determined by a team of physician reviewers, led to compensation claims.

Career Activity Since Fellowship:
  • Registrar, Orygen Youth Health, 2016
  • Chair, Veterans' Health Advisory Panel (NZ), 2014
  • Non-Executive Director, Sommerset Group Holdings Ltd., 2013
  • Non-Executive Director, GMHBA, 2013
  • Director, Youth and Well Cooperative Research Centre, 2011
  • Associate Professor, University of Melbourne, 2010
  • Council Member / Deputy President, Family Planning - Positive Sexual Health, 2010
  • Director, Family Planning Victoria, 2013
  • Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Health Policy Programs & Economics, University of Melbourne School of Population Health
  • Chair of the Board, New Zealand Dispute Resolution Services Ltd, 2009
  • Member, Ministerial Advisory Panel on Veteran’s Health, 2009
  • Institute of Director’s Aspiring Director Award, 20007-08
  • Distinguished Practitioner in Residence, Bond University, 2007
  • Director, Accident Compensation Corporation, 2007
  • Board Member, New Zealand's No-fault Accident Compensation Scheme, 2007
  • Appointed Member, Bioethics Council, 2007-09
  • Consultant in Health Law, Buddle Findlay, 2006
  • Public HealthRegistrar, 2006

  • Current Positions:
  • Registrar, Orygen Youth Health
  • Associate Professor and Head of Law and Public Health Group, University of Melbourne
  • Chair, Veterans' Health Advisory Panel (NZ)
  • Non-Executive Director, Sommerset Group Holdings Ltd.
  • Non-Executive Director, GMHBA
  • Director, Youth and Well Cooperative Research Centre

  • E-Mail:
    [email protected]

    Selected Publications

    Bismark MM, Studdert DM. Governance of quality of care: a qualitative study of health service boards in Victoria, Australia. BMJ Qual Saf 2013 Dec 10.

    Bismark MM, Walter SJ, Studdert DM. The role of boards in clinical governance: activities and attitudes among members of public health service boards in Victoria. Aust Health Rev 2013 Nov;37(5):682-7.

    Bismark MM, Spittal MJ, Studdert DM. In response to 'Correspondence: Identification of doctors at risk of recurrent complaints: a national study of healthcare complaints in Australia'. BMJ Qual Saf 2013 Oct;22(10):879-80.

    Bismark MM, Spittal MJ, Gurrin LC, Ward M, Studdert DM. Identification of doctors at risk of recurrent complaints: a national study of healthcare complaints in Australia. BMJ Qual Saf 2013 Jul;22(7):532-40.

    Micalizzi DA, Bismark MM. The heart of health care: parents' perspectives on patient safety. Pediatr Clin North Am 2012 Dec;59(6):1233-46.

    Bismark MM, Gogos AJ, Clark RB, Gruen RL, Gawande AA, Studdert DM. Legal disputes over duties to disclose treatment risks to patients: a review of negligence claims and complaints in Australia. PLoS Med 2012;9(8):e1001283.

    Bismark MM, Gogos AJ, McCombe D, Clark RB, Gruen RL, Studdert DM. Legal dIsputes over  informed consent for cosmetic procedures: a descriptive study of negligence claims and  Complaints in Australia. J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg 2012 Nov;65(11):1506-12.

    Gogos AJ, Clark RB, Bismark MM, Gruen RL, Studdert DM. When informed consent goes poorly: a descriptive study of medical negligence claims and patient complaints. Med J Aust 2011 Sep 19;195(6):340-4.

    Bismark MM, Spittal MJ, Gogos AJ, Gruen RL, Studdert DM. Remedies sought and obtained in healthcare complaints. BMJ Qual Saf 2011 Sep;20(9):806-10.

    Bismark MM, Spittal MJ, Studdert DM. Prevalence and characteristics of complaint-prone doctors in private practice in Victoria. Med J Aust 2011 Jul 4;195(1):25-8.

    Bismark MM, Studdert DM. Realising the research power of complaints data. N Z Med J 2010 May 14;123(1314):12-7.

    Bismark M. 2009. “The Power of Apology.” N Z Med J. 122(1304).

    Bismark, M. 2007. “No-fault Medical Malpractice in New Zealand.” Chapter in: Legal Medicine (American College of Legal Medicine). New York: Elsevier.

    Bismark M and Paterson R. 2006. “Naming, blaming and shaming?” Medical Law 25(1) 115-125.

    Bismark MM, Brennan TA, Davis PB, Studdert DM. 2006. “Claiming behaviour in New Zealand's no-fault system of medical injury compensation: a descriptive analysis of claimants and non-claimants.” Medical Journal of Australia. 185(4).

    Bismark M, Dauer E, Paterson R, Studdert DM. “Accountability sought by patients following adverse events from medical care: the New Zealand experience,” Canadian Medical Association Journal 2006; 175(8).

    Bismark M. “Complaints and Compensation in New Zealand” (letter), British Medical Journal 2006; 332: 1095.

    Bismark M, Brennan TA, Paterson RJ, Davis PB, Studdert DM. “Relationship between Complaints and Quality of Care in New Zealand: a Descriptive Analysis of Complainants and Non-Complainants Following Adverse Events,” Quality and Safety in Health Care 2006; 15:17-22.

    Bismark M, Dauer E. “Patient Motivations for Medico-legal Action: Lessons from New Zealand,” Journal of Legal Medicine 2006; 27(1):55-70.

    Bismark M, Paterson RJ. “No-Fault Compensation in New Zealand: Harmonizing Injury Compensation, Provider Accountability, and Patient Safety,” Health Affairs 2006; 25(1):278-283.

    Bismark M, Paterson R. “Doing the ‘Right Thing’ After Adverse Events,” New Zealand Medical Journal 2005; 118(1219).

    Bismark M. “Ambros v. ACC: A Commentary,” Legal Medicine Perspectives 2005.