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Sorry Works! Blog

Making Disclosure A Reality For Healthcare Organizations 

The Difference Between Apology Laws & Disclosure/CRP Programs


Over the past few months there has been a definite buzz about the article published earlier this year in Stanford Law Review which claims that apology laws don't work.  In fact, the article suggests that apology laws may actually increase litigation for some physicians.  Many of us in the disclosure movement have been asked questions about this article, and some ill-informed physicians have even spouted off on social media with some version of the following, "Well, see saying 'sorry' is just going to get us sued....we should just keep our mouths shut after something goes wrong!"  

Two responses you should know: 
1) The authors of the Stanford Law Review stated in their article that their data in no way negates the data coming out disclosure/CRP programs which shows reduced litigation with increased safety.  The Stanford authors emphasized that disclosure/CRP programs provide training and support to physicians and staff, including upfront compensation to injured patients and grieving families. Training and support is lacking in almost all state-wide apology laws.  The Stanford authors appeared very supportive of disclosure/CRP programs;  

2) Apology laws in most states are just state-wide statutes that decrease the admissibility of some post-adverse statements made by healthcare professionals.  There is no training for medical staff or support structure (including compensation to patients and families) put in place by apology laws.  We've often said at Sorry Works! that apology laws are not needed to start and successfully sustain a disclosure/CRP program. If anything, the Stanford article proves that apology laws are an unnecessary side-show....hospitals, nursing homes, and insurers need to focus on developing disclosure programs. 

We wrote two blog posts on this topic earlier this year, and they can be found here and here.  In summary, apology laws are NOT disclosure programs, and disclosure programs do NOT need apology laws to operate successfully.  

I hope this e-newsletter clears up any confusion on this important issue.  Please forward and share this newsletter with colleagues and friends.  Moreover, please call 618-559-8168 with any questions or comments or simply respond to this e-mail. 

Have a great Labor Day! 

- Doug 

Doug Wojcieszak, Founder & President  
Sorry Works! 
618-559-8168 (direct dial) (direct e-mail) 

Doug Wojcieszak