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Sorry Works! Blog

Making Disclosure A Reality For Healthcare Organizations 

Widow Drops Lawsuit After Letter of Sympathy from Doctor


A recent article in Medscape tells the story of widow dropping a lawsuit after receiving a letter of sympathy from a surgeon. The surgeon in question had placed a central line in the widow's 75-year old husband who suffered from diabetes, chronic heart failure, arrhythmia, and other issues. The line was needed to administer antibiotics for the patient's gangrenous foot. Unfortunately, the day after the line was placed the patient complained of a low temperature (87.6F), pain where the line was placed, and had a bluish color in his neck and face. The patient passed out and could not be revived by paramedics. The wife sued the surgeon who placed the line.

The Medscape article reported that the PI lawyer was having trouble with experts, and, as the trial date grew closer, the widow agreed to drop the case if the surgeon sent a letter of sympathy. According to Medscape, the letter was sent and suit was dropped.  

In my opinion, this article reinforces the need for disclosure training for front-line medical staff (doctors, nurses, and others). In all likelihood, if the surgeon had only been empathetic on the front-end, a costly and time-consuming lawsuit could have been avoided altogether.  

Finally, reading the online comments in response to this article, mostly from physicians, is a frustrating glimpse into the minds of medical professionals and shows why there are still so many lawsuits against healthcare professionals. Instead of saying "sorry" post-event, many docs are pre-disposed to be defensive, dismissive, and silent. Indeed, there is still a "bunker" mentality among too many docs. Again, had "sorry" been offered on the front-end (and not the rear end!), a costly lawsuit could have been avoided.  

Can't say it enough...we desperately need more disclosure training for front-line clinicians.


- Doug

Doug Wojcieszak, Founder
Sorry Works!
PO Box 531
Glen Carbon, IL 62034

Doug Wojcieszak