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Sorry Works! Blog

Making Disclosure A Reality For Healthcare Organizations 

Doctors Apologizing During Depositions

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Several plaintiff’s lawyers have recently told me stories of doctors actually apologizing during depositions.  One attorney said he had a whole list of questions to ask a defendant doctor, spent days prepping for the depo, etc, but the doctor apologized and admitted fault a few minutes into the inquiry. Another lawyer said they never saw this behavior five or 10 years ago, but, it's becoming more common. 

Great. This is great news. Another sign of the progress we've made. Terrific. Just imagine the relief and closure felt by patients/families who receive these apologies.  The docs have to feel good too.  It's truly wonderful to hear lawyers sharing these stories. 

My only question is why wait for the deposition?  Why aren't doctors along with hospitals/nursing homes apologizing long before a deposition is even scheduled?  Why wait that long for the healing to begin?  And why spend all that time and money getting there?  This, again, speaks to the need for more robust and pro-active disclosure programs, which includes well-educated claims and defense attorneys.  Which also means making sure the claims folks and defense attorneys are not throwing sand in the gears and slowing stuff down (if they are, fire them). 

I've heard one too many defense attorneys respond to clear cut cases of fault with, "Well, we still need to do discovery, then put everyone through depositions, file some motions with the court, etc."  Then I've heard claims guys say, "Well, we'll only lift a finger if an attorney calls, and even then we're not going to throw in the towel."  Those attitudes need to go.... 

I also heard recently from a MD plaintiffs expert that he is seeing more and more cases where doctors are apologizing to a family, but, then the hospital or nursing home doesn't do anything for the family,
and the family is literally forced to sue.  There is a literal break down or gap between front-line staff who maybe learned about disclosure in school or learned about it somewhere else and leadership that is not on board with the concept. Again, it's great that more and more doctors have had their moral compasses re-adjusted and/or awakened.  Terrific.  However, apologies are meaningless unless there is organizational follow through that helps all parties receive the healing and closure they deserve. 

So, honestly ask yourself...does your hospital or nursing home have a robust and pro-active disclosure program?  If not, you're not alone and Sorry Works! is here to help.  Give us a call at 618-559-8168 or e-mail doug@sorryworks.net for more information.

Sincerely,

- Doug

Doug Wojcieszak, 618-559-8168  

Doug Wojcieszak