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Sorry Works! Blog

Making Disclosure A Reality For Healthcare Organizations 

Hospital, Doctor Apologize to Actress for Surgery Burns

Han Ye-seul, an American-born South Korean actress, suffered burns during a botched surgery to remove a lipoma. The famous actress posted pictures of her burns on the Internet and also complained about the lack of response from the hospital -- the posts received over 150,000 likes. Soon after, the Korean hospital as well as the doctor quickly admitted fault in their public apologies and pledged to pay to fix the scar as also offer other compensation.   

This is a good teaching case.  The ubiquity of social media means anyone can post pictures and complaints about care gone wrong and have the same (or larger) reach than Han Ye-seul.  Regardless if the hospital and doctor can proactively settle the claim with Ms. Ye-seul, the damage may already be done. This hospital and doctor may forever be known as the gang who burned the pretty starlet and then sat on their hands for a couple weeks, until she complained to all her fans on social media with horrifying pictures.  Would you want to receive care at this hospital?    

To be fair, the hospital and doctor are now doing the right thing, because how often have we seen doctors, hospitals, and nursing homes dig in their heals even with clear cut cases of malpractice?  So, give the hospital and doctor credit.  However, I would have liked to have seen the actress tell the story in the following manner: "I had a surgery at this hospital and with this doctor, and a mistake happened. Nobody wanted the error to occur. However, the hospital, doctor, and the rest of the staff have been amazingly responsive, they sincerely apologized, are going to pay to correct the injury and help me other ways, and have pledged to learn from the mistake. I would come back to this hospital and doctor for future care, not because they are perfect but due to their integrity. Lastly, I am not sharing any pictures because that's between me and my doctor....please keep us in your prayers." 

To get that kind of response from a patient you have to do disclosure training ahead of time and have people in place to deal with this stuff quickly.  You need a disclosure program. Yes, the hospital and doctor eventually did the right thing, but, it looked like they were shamed into the apology because of the nasty pictures splattered all over social media. 

Remember this case, because, next week, it might not be a leading lady who is injured at your hospital, but the bubbly, 14-year old cheerleader who has a legion of "friends" on social media who will share her story with the world. Can you say "viral?"  Look at what the kids at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are doing to the gun control debate.  

Finally, the Sorry Works! content has been translated into Korean as well as Japanese and most recently Chinese.  To my Korean friends and followers....keep pushing disclosure in your country.  And, no, you do NOT need any special laws (apology laws or otherwise) to do disclosure.  Just lots training.    

At Sorry Works, we are always ready to help our friends in Korea and elsewhere. Just call 1-618-559-8168 anytime. 

Sincerely,

- Doug

Doug Wojcieszak, Founder
Sorry Works
1-618-559-8168

Doug Wojcieszak