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Sorry Works! Blog

Making Disclosure A Reality For Healthcare Organizations 

Hospital Apologizes for Death of 19-Year Old Killed By Medical Errors

In 2011, teenager Bronte Doyne's stomach troubles were diagnosed as a rare form of liver cancer. Surgeons removed part of her liver and thought they had beaten the disease. However, Bronte continued to experience stomach problems and she and her parents reported these concerns, but physicians dismissed the family and told them to stop "Googling" her symptoms. The family continued to journal the situation and ask for help to no avail. By the time doctors listened and re-examined Bronte, it was too late and she died from the cancer a few days later. Very tragic story. According to media reports (story linked below), the hospital has apologized for their errors, and is working with the family to a produce a video about Bronte's story that will be shown to staff later in 2015. In a statement, the hospital's medical director pledged to share the learning from Bronte's death.

This is all we know at this point...but it's a lot.

It appears accountability and apology have opened the door to reconciliation and learning with Bronte's case. We see this time and again in the disclosure movement where apology allows both sides to address the emotional aspects of a case (as well as the financial needs), and a lot of good can be brought out of a tragedy. There are many examples out there of families teaming up with hospitals to share their stories -- it's very powerful stuff. However, without the apology and accountability, family's typically struggle to let go of their anger, the emotional aspects of the cases are not explored, and situations dissolve into angry fights over money. In other words, if your lawyers and claims guy are worried about money tell them to focus on the emotional aspects of cases! 

We dedicate an entire chapter in the new Sorry Works! Tool Kit Book to inspiring (and maddening) stories of disclosure and non-disclosure. To order, click here. These powerful apology stories will help you and your colleagues conceptualize how apology can work in a medical setting -- and provide a lot of motivation too!

To learn more about Bronte's story, visit this link and this link.

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