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  • Writer's pictureTrish Guise

Morbidity and Mortality Conferences: Reshaping the Family Law Landscape

Updated: Feb 27

Group of surgeons dressed in medical gowns operating on a patient

What do M&MCs have to do with family law?

Nothing yet...although given the utility & purpose M&MCs in the medical field, I propose family law could experience similar benefits.


For over a century, the medical profession has been using Morbidity and Mortality Conferences (MMCs) as opportunities to identify errors and recommend modifications through in-depth discussions and evaluations of cases and their outcomes (Welton, Ashai, Virgo & Nahhas, 2021). To my knowledge, family law does not have a similar mechanism to recognize errors.

One could draw a parallel between the medical professions focus on patient safety and family law’s focus on best interest of the child.  Within family law, M&MCs could provide a means of identifying system-based problems and lack of knowledge that pose a danger to the best interest of the child.

Implementing M&MCs in the justice system, akin to their usage in the medical field, could

  • serve as a potent instrument for analysis and enhancement,

  • provide a platform for legal professionals and abuse survivors,

  • allow for examination of unfavorable results,

  • pinpoint areas that may be enhanced,

  • avert future errors, and

  • enhance the process of making decisions.


Morbidity & Mortality Conferences in Medicine


gowned and masked surgeons standing in circle looking at camera

M&MCs provide medical professionals a forum for case discussions where causes of medical error are ascertained to determine a plan for their avoidance in the future.

Causes of medical error are viewed as:

  • lack of technical knowledge or skill,

  • lack of judgment,

  • lack of care or equipment,

  • incorrect diagnosis,

  • nature and extent of disease,

  • deaths, and

  • unpreventable calamities (Nakayama, 2023)


Morbidity & Mortality Conferences in Family Law


judge in robe standing in front of the gavel and scales of justice

Adopting the M&MC concept can yield substantial advantages by facilitating the identification and prevention of future errors in family law as well. It would be advantageous to examine the ill-fated legal decisions, processes and agreements that placed the best interest of the child in jeopardy.


Not unsimilar to the medical field, family law M&MCs could look for the causes of legal errors such as:

  • lack of specific knowledge and training in coercive control,

  • lack of judgment or poor analysis of the issues,

  • lack of due attention to the risks presented,

  • incorrect evaluation of the facts and items presented,

  • unpredictable events.


For example, reviewing cases where the best interests of the child were not prioritized or where protective parents faced continued post-separation abuse, legal professionals could gain valuable insights into the shortcomings of the system and legal process. Poor judgement, faulty decision-making process and/or the lack of required knowledge could be identified, learned from and rectified for future cases.

M&MCs could provide a well-organized and cooperative setting for legal professionals and abuse survivors to exchange their experiences, viewpoints, and specialized knowledge. Through this collective analysis we can pinpoint underlying problems within the family law system, such as prejudices, resource deficiencies, or inefficient procedures, that lead to its failures.

group of casually dressed lawyers sitting at common table with laptops having a discussion

These conferences could act as a catalyst for change by encouraging responsibility and promoting transparency. By openly addressing and recognizing the errors made within the legal system, legal practitioners can exhibit their dedication to enhancement and restore the confidence of individuals who have experienced abuse. This can result in the introduction of changes that prioritize the safety and well-being of children and offer enhanced assistance for parents who are protective.

M&MCs potentially have the capacity to transform the family law system by offering a venue for analysis, cooperation and enhancement. Through the implementation of this strategy, legal experts and individuals who have experienced abuse could collaborate in order to rectify the shortcomings of the system, avert future errors, and finally establish a fairer and more nurturing atmosphere for all parties concerned.


Preventing Future Mistakes in Judgement


all way stop sign mounted on city pole

As in the medical field, M&MCs could offer legal practitioners the opportunity to learn from past cases and past errors of theirs and others in order to improve their representation of future clients (de Vos & Verhagen, 2023).

Within the judicial system, M&MCs could serve as more than just a means of examining previous failures; they could be a potent instrument for averting future mistakes that may retraumatize the parties and create further harm. Through the examination of unfavorable consequences and the identification of areas requiring enhancement, legal practitioners could instigate comprehensive transformation and safeguard the paramount welfare of children.

The insights gained from M&MCs could significantly influence decision-making procedures within the family law system. Through the analysis of instances in which the safety and well-being of a child were compromised, legal experts could discern recurring trends and formulate tactics to avert the recurrence of similar errors. Adopting this proactive strategy could be essential to mitigation of recurrence of previous mistakes.  

Group of kids of different ethnicities talking in the playground

Through collaborative discussions and careful examination of negative consequences, individuals could gain insights from one another's experiences and establish optimal strategies that promote the best interest of the child. The collaborative endeavor could be instrumental in fostering a culture of ongoing enhancement within the legal system.

Adopting M&MCs as a regular practice, the family legal system could cultivate a culture of accountability and responsibility. Legal practitioners would be incentivized to pursue excellence and prevent any mistakes that may jeopardize the well-being of children and their protective parents. Implementing this proactive method may not only avert future errors but also augment the general efficacy and efficiency of the legal process.

To effectively avoid future errors in the family law system, it is necessary to adopt a proactive strategy. M&MCs offer an opportunity to glean insights from previous mistakes, instigate comprehensive change, and safeguard the welfare of children. By adopting this approach, legal experts may guarantee that the errors of the past are not replicated, so establishing a more secure and equitable setting for all parties concerned.


The justice system’s adoption of morbidity and mortality (M&M) meetings, like those found in the medical field, can be a powerful tool for review and improvement. These meetings provide an opening for legal professionals and survivors of abuse to join forces in analyzing unfavorable outcomes, making improvements, avoiding future errors as well as enhancing decision-making processes. Likewise, employing this approach within the legal system just like it is done in M&M meetings in medicine can have great advantages. Legal practitioners can gain insight into the weaknesses of the system by reviewing cases where the child’s best interests were not prioritized or where abused parents were victimized after separation.

Legal professionals and abuse survivors can therefore benefit from these structured and collaborative environments where they are able to share their experiences, perspectives, and expertise through M&M meetings. Consequently, this type of collective analysis could help identify systemic factors such as prejudice, lack of resources or inefficacious procedures that contribute to failures within the family legal system.What’s more is that these meetings can act as a change agent because they bring out responsibility while promoting openness. The mistakes done by the system should be openly discussed so that all people comprehend them without any controversy.


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