Time To Be Honest About Intentions of Disclosure Movement
For what's it worth, I am reading more and more negative comments about disclosure from patient advocates on Facebook and other social media outlets. Now, to be fair, some of these comments are ill-informed rants, but, you hear enough of something coming from different corners you should be concerned. What is the "something" I am reading/hearing? Namely, that disclosure is just about saying "sorry" and NOT meeting the financial needs of injured patients and grieving families. In more plain terms, some folks see disclosure as a big rip-off. Ugh. I've also heard from some plaintiff's experts that they are starting to see more and more cases where doctors say "sorry" for a medical error, and...that's it. No talk of compensation, meeting the family's needs, etc. Then, I'll never forget one very prominent physician saying he knew nothing about the compensation piece of the disclosure movement. Yikes!
We have a lot of misinformation and confusion out there among the patient/family population and clinicians.
I think some leaders in the disclosure movement bear responsibility for this situation.. I am talking about the folks (are there many of them) who will say with a straight face that disclosure is NOT a risk management tool, has nothing to do with reducing litigation, etc. "Disclosure is just a patient safety tool," they exclaim. I find it curious that many of these same people have publically touted their reduced litigation figures -- even to legislative bodies -- but still persist with their messaging that disclosure is NOT a risk management tool. Please.
You know, for decades there was nothing but lies and misinformation or just plain silence given to patients, families, and clinicians post-event. No one told the truth, and nobody had their needs (financial, emotional, etc) met. The only outlet for patients and families was to file lawsuits, and the only course of action for clinicians was to run and hide. It was awful. Now, we literally have a light in the darkness called disclosure but not everyone wants to be honest about the light. "It's just a safety tool." Hogwash! If we are going to re-build trust with patients and families, we have to be honest.
We've written in this space plenty of times that there is nothing wrong with saying that disclosure IS about avoiding lawsuits, so long as you also say disclosure is NOT about avoiding responsibility (financial and otherwise). Patients, families, and doctors need to know that hospitals, nursing homes, and insurers are willing to meet the financial needs of consumers injured by medical errors WITHOUT litigation. You don't need to sue in order to be treated fairly. Anything short of this honest messaging will continue to create confusion among patients, families, and clinicians and we can't afford it.
Disclosure is about honesty...so, let's be honest about its intentions. Have a great weekend!
Doug Wojcieszak, Founder
618-559-8168 (direct dial)