Poor People Less Likely to Accept Disclosure?
I was speaking at a conference recently, and encountered an insurance executive from the Southern United States who said the following to me: "I don't think poor people would go for disclosure....I think they'll see it as a lottery ticket. Maybe disclosure can work with the middle class and even wealthy people, but not the poor."
What do you think? I don't agree. I don't think we should be putting labels on anybody or making assumptions about how any group of people will behave when confronted by transparency.
Consider my story...I was working on Republican staff in the Illinois legislature, a bastion of upper middle class and wealthy people, when my brother was killed by medical errors and the hospital covered up. Jim died shortly after our caucus had passed tort reform...and I was amazed how many legislators and colleagues tried to help me find a personal injury lawyer and encouraged my family to sue. I can't tell you how many times I heard the following: "You're gonna sue, aren't you?!!" There was no talk of caps on damages or "frivolous lawsuits"....people were only concerned about helping me get justice. That was an eye opener! Great lesson in not making assumptions about anyone or anything in this thing call we call med-mal.
Look, I'm sure there are some poor folks who would see disclosure as a lottery ticket. Just the same, there are some middle class and wealthy people who won't talk with you post-event (no matter how good your disclosure efforts are) because their neighbor is the best PI lawyer in town. It will happen, but, disclosing, being empathetic, and, (if necessary) apologetic actually strengthens your case when being sued. However, I instead choose to focus on the fact that most Americans, be they poor, rich, or somewhere in between, want honesty and accountability after something goes wrong and will respond accordingly when doctors and nurses disclose. Americans are actually a very forgiving people. Unfortunately, for too long, the tort reformers -- the same folks who tried to help me find a lawyer after my brother died -- have scared doctors to the point of viewing ALL patients and families as "potential litigants." We need to stop all the negativity, help our doctors and nurses get better connected with patients and families pre-event, and help them stay connected with their customers post-event. Disclosure shows the way.
What we have seen across the country in all sorts of settings and venues is that claims, litigation, and litigation expenses are reduced when healthcare and insurance organizations implement disclosure. This stuff works everywhere, and with everyone.
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