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Sorry Works! Blog

Making Disclosure A Reality For Healthcare Organizations 

Sorry Won’t Cut it for Pharmacy Error?

Over the past 24 hours a story has begun circulating that a pharmacy accidently dispensed methotrexate to a pregnant woman (see below). The drug is used for chemotherapy and to terminate early-stage pregnancies. The woman could eventually lose the pregnancy or deliver a child with birth defects.

The pharmacy has issued a “sincere apology” and has pledged to cover all medical expenses. The pregnant woman says sorry won’t cut it, has hired a lawyer, and is not talking anymore.

So, did sorry not work? We need to understand more about the case.

From where I sit, my gut tells me the pharmacy needs to be saying and doing more. Simply offering help with medical expenses sounds cold. Even if God willing the child is born with no defects, this dosing error has turned this pregnancy into a nightmare. Could you imagine waiting seven to eight months to learn if your precious child is impaired? Talk about torture. Quite frankly, this is an area where a lot of organizations still struggle with disclosure…they say “sorry” and pledge to help, but either the pledge is insufficient and/or not specific enough. The follow through is lacking and aggravates the situation and actually builds the fire as opposed to dousing the flames.

I think the pharmacy needs to be more aggressive in their pronouncements. They need to talk about covering all injuries – financial/medical and emotional – caused to this woman, her baby, and her family. Even if the lady refuses all phone calls, letters, e-mails, etc, her lawyer or the public will never be able to say they didn’t care or want to own up to their responsibilities. As we say, disclosure, at the minimum, is about building a rock solid defense. Take away the plus factors.

Another problem: “We understand the anxiety this has caused and the difficulty of Ms. Silva’s situation.” Yes, the pharmacy actually said this (see story). Ouch. No, they don’t understand. This might be another reason the woman has lawyered up and is not talking anymore. Clumsy statement. Try this: “We can only imagine the pain she and her family are experiencing….”  See the difference?

Going forward, the pharmacy is really going to need to think of creative and meaningful ways to own this error. Name a safety training series after the mother and child? Involve the mother/family in some meaningful ways? Etc, etc. Bottom line is the resolution shouldn’t simply be a check…the situation demands much more.

Hey, don’t forget to register for our first ever open Sorry Works! Training Seminar on March 22nd, being hosted by the Hospital Association of Southern California.

Sincerely,

– Doug

Doug Wojcieszak, Founder, Sorry Works

GeneralJames Harper