"No Comment" to Med-Mal Lawsuit? Try This Instead...
When a medical malpractice lawsuit goes public in the media, we usually see/hear the following storyline: A heart-wrenching tale told by the patient, family, and/or plaintiff’s attorney (which may or may not be true) followed by a “No comment” from the hospital or “Per hospital policy, we do not comment on pending litigation.” Then, the raging idiots on social media (and they are morons!) opine about the case: “Gee, sloppy doctors killed another patient!” OR “This is just another frivolous lawsuit!” OR “Doctors do their best…why can’t the family accept this and move on?” and so on and so on. I understand we don’t want hospital spokespeople speculating about medicine or legalities, but can’t we do better than “no comment?” Can’t we do something to quell the social media lunatics whose rants harm patients, families, and clinicians? And can't we maintain a leadership posture in the public eye as opposed to hiding behind the couch? I think we can, and with disclosure becoming more prevalent we should want to. Saying “no comment” feeds into the perception that hospitals cover up mistakes and doctors protect one another. No more of that….try some of the version following instead:
“We want the public to know that our hospital addresses all complaints – including lawsuits – in a very serious fashion, and we are sorry this situation happened with the Smith Family. We look forward to working with the Smith Family and their attorney to discuss their concerns in a fair and expedited manner for both sides. In the meantime, we ask the public to withhold judgment about this lawsuit, including posting negative comments on social media. No family enters lightly into a lawsuit, and our doctors and nurses try to do their best every day. Instead, we ask that you keep the Smith Family and our doctors and nurses in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. Thank you.”
What do you think?