Criminal Prosecution of Docs? Take Sorry Works! Outside the Walls...
A friend shared a recent article with me which described how a British physician was convicted of "gross negligence manslaughter" in the death of a six-year old boy. The punch line from the article is physicians in this area of England are now much less likely to admit fault for any mishaps.
Every so often, we see criminal prosecutions of docs -- some with very good reason. However, many of these cases that attract prosecutors -- such as the British case linked above --- honestly don't seem to rise beyond the level of the average med-mal dispute. Nevertheless, these prosecutions do strike fear into doctors as well as nurses and other clinicians. It's one thing to be sued, quite another thing to be led away in handcuffs. Ditto when professional licensure boards go after docs who have admitted fault and done the right thing post-event. Yet, it's all somewhat understandable due to years and years of deny and defend, docs and nurses covering for their incompetent colleagues, etc. Not only do the PI lawyers want to send a message, the criminal prosecutors, medical boards, members of media, and others jump into the fray every so often.
I have always told hospitals, nursing homes, and insurers that Sorry Works! should not be contained within the four walls of your organization. Not only should you train your leadership and staff, but you must also take the show on the road by explaining your disclosure program to outside stakeholders, starting with PI lawyers but also state regulators, the media (including prominent bloggers in your region), and also criminal prosecutors. The message is simple: "Look, we know for decades that the medical community has not owned up to errors, but there is a movement sweeping across medicine called disclosure and apology, and our hospital/nursing home is adopting this approach. Here is how disclosure works.... If you ever have any questions about a case, if you are approached by family angry about our organization, please pick up the phone or send us an e-mail. The door is always open. If we made a mistake, we will own it. If not, we will explain to you why our care was good despite the bad outcome. It's a new day...please be our partner in this effort."
We cover this issue in depth in the Sorry Work Tool Kit. Everything you need to know about disclosure is covered in the Tool Kit -- be sure to order your copy today.
Doug Wojciesak, Founder