Hospital Shares Errors, Apologies with the Public
Recently, I was alerted by a reporter that Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston is now sharing stories of errors and apologies with the public. The hospital is publishing stories and posting them on the Internet for the whole world to see. We applaud this move. For years at Sorry Works, we have told hospitals, long-term care facilities, and the insurance, claims, and legal professionals who serve them that disclosure should NOT be contained within the four walls of their buildings. We routinely instruct people to share the details of their disclosure programs with the public, the media, and the trial bar, and, when appropriate, share stories of specific cases. We need to educate the public and -- moreover -- CHANGE the public's perception that doctors and nurses will run away post-event and the only way to get answers is to file a lawsuit, file a complaint with the state or the media, rant on social media, etc. Following an event, consumers need to know they can go back to their hospital/doctor with questions and will be treated fairly . Trial lawyers also need to know the door is open and phone calls/e-mails are welcomed.
The two disclosure stories shared so far by Brigham and Women's Hospital involved a delayed diagnosis of cancer in an 85-year old woman (which was viewed not to have impacted her chances of survival), and a mistake in an infant leading to a scar on the wrist (which was viewed not to warrant plastic surgery). It will be interesting to see if Brigham and Women's -- and other hospitals -- will begin publishing disclosure/apology stories of truly compensable errors. There is still an unwarranted fear among some claims and legal professionals that by telling the public the hospital or nursing home paid money on a case that the flood gates will open, families and their lawyers will be lined up around the corner looking for handouts, etc. The claims record of the University of Illinois Medical Center (in Cook County!), University of Michigan Health System, and other systems who have been public about compensable errors do NOT validate these fears. In fact, the public and the trial bar view these healthcare organizations as having integrity and seem to be more willing to treat them fairly. It's all about restoring trust!
On Thursday, November 12, Sorry Works! will be hosting a webinar on how to start and sustain your disclosure program. Sorry Works! Founder Doug Wojcieszak will be teaching from the new Sorry Works! Tool Kit --- and every registrant will receive a copy of the Tool Kit. Click here to register.