Disclosure, Apology Finally Coming to Military Medicine?
Earlier this year, we wrote an e-newsletter/blog sharply criticizing the lack of disclosure, apology and transparency in military medicine, and challenging the Obama administration in its closing months to order changes. Our column was inspired by a lengthy New York Times article which detailed the anger experienced by military families left in the dark after medical errors --- and the lame excuses offered by military leaders why the troops couldn't know the truth. Well, maybe disclosure and apology is finally coming to military medicine.
According to a recent Military Times article, the Department of Defense has created and is apparently expanding a program called "Healthcare Resolutions." The program appears to have many similarities with traditional disclosure programs, including the fact that patients/families do not lose the right to file a claim or lawsuit (if they feel the need to do so), and consumers can be represented by counsel. However, it appears the Healthcare Resolutions specialists/leaders make no determination if an error occurred (or not), and they will disengage from a case if a lawsuit is filed. For an apology to be genuine and be real to all stakeholders -- including clinicians -- a credible review to determine if a mistake happened must be part of the disclosure process. And just because a lawsuit is filed, folks shouldn't leave the playing field. Perhaps tweaks need to be made to this new Healthcare Resolutions program?
Nevertheless, the development of the Healthcare Resolutions program may be welcome news. We encourage the military to share more information about the program, and hopefully the program will be refined and expanded. Over the years, Sorry Works! has had the pleasure of working with many military healthcare professionals who want disclosure for soldiers and families, so we will keep our fingers crossed.