Michelle Mello is a leading empirical health law scholar whose research is focused on understanding the effects of law and regulation on health care delivery and population health outcomes. She is the author of more than 130 articles and book chapters on the medical malpractice system, medical errors and patient safety, research ethics, regulation of pharmaceuticals, legal interventions to combat obesity and noncommunicable disease, and other topics. Her investigations into the dynamics of medical malpractice litigation, the effects of medical liability reforms, the ability of hospitals to shift costs of medical errors to others, and allocating responsibility for medical errors between hospital systems and individual physicians have been particularly important and impactful.

Mello’s publications appear in medical, health policy, and law journals, and she is a frequent contributor to the New England Journal of Medicine. Recent publications include “Prospects for Regulation of Off-Label Drug Promotion in an Era of Expanding Commercial Speech Protection,” North Carolina Law Review (2014); “Implementing Hospital-Based Communication-and-Resolution Programs: Lessons Learned in New York City,” Health Affairs (2014); “Survey Finds Public Support for Legal Interventions Directed at Health Behavior to Fight Noncommunicable Disease,” Health Affairs (2013); “Critical Opportunities for Public Health Law: A Call for Action,” American Journal of Public Health (2013); “High Physician Concern About Malpractice Risk Predicts More Aggressive Diagnostic Testing in Office-Based Practice,” Health Affairs (2013); and “Preparing for Responsible Sharing of Clinical Trial Data,” New England Journal of Medicine (2013).

In 2013, Mello was elected to the Institute of Medicine, one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine, in recognition of outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service. Mello’s work has also garnered the Alice S. Hersh New Investigator Award from AcademyHealth, the leading professional organization for health services and health policy research in the U.S.; a Greenwall Faculty Scholars Award in Bioethics; and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Award in Health Policy Research.

Mello, who holds a PhD in Health Policy and Administration as well as a JD, has a joint appointment at Stanford Law School and the Stanford School of Medicine in the Department of Health Research and Policy. She teaches public health law. Prior to joining Stanford in 2014, she was a Professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and Director of the School’s Program in Law and Public Health, as well as a Lab Fellow at Harvard’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 program in Public Health Law Research.

Academic Appointments

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations

  • Affiliated Faculty, Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford (METRICS) (2014 - Present)



Journal Articles

  • The Medical Liability Climate and Prospects for Reform JAMA-JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION Mello, M. M., Studdert, D. M., Kachalia, A. 2014; 312 (20): 2146-2155
  • Communication-And-Resolution Programs: The Challenges And Lessons Learned From Six Early Adopters HEALTH AFFAIRS Mello, M. M., Boothman, R. C., McDonald, T., Driver, J., Lembitz, A., Bouwmeester, D., Dunlap, B., Gallagher, T. 2014; 33 (1): 20-29


    In communication-and-resolution programs (CRPs), health systems and liability insurers encourage the disclosure of unanticipated care outcomes to affected patients and proactively seek resolutions, including offering an apology, an explanation, and, where appropriate, reimbursement or compensation. Anecdotal reports from the University of Michigan Health System and other early adopters of CRPs suggest that these programs can substantially reduce liability costs and improve patient safety. But little is known about how these early programs achieved success. We studied six CRPs to identify the major challenges in and lessons learned from implementing these initiatives. The CRP participants we interviewed identified several factors that contributed to their programs' success, including the presence of a strong institutional champion, investing in building and marketing the program to skeptical clinicians, and making it clear that the results of such transformative change will take time. Many of the early CRP adopters we interviewed expressed support for broader experimentation with these programs even in settings that differ from their own, such as systems that do not own and control their liability insurer, and in states without strong tort reforms.

    View details for DOI 10.1377/hlthaff.2013.0828

    View details for Web of Science ID 000330289300004

    View details for PubMedID 24395931

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