Sorry Works!

Sorry Works! Blog

Making Disclosure A Reality For Healthcare Organizations 

Additional Thoughts -- Hospital's Letter of Apology for Dallas Ebola Crisis

Dear Readers, We received a lot of interest in the original e-newsletter below. I guess when you put "Ebola" in the title of anything today people are going to at least give it a look! But, there was earnest feedback and still some angst over letters or any type of "public" documents (e-mail, blog post, etc) of this nature.

Some thoughts to share with you: This letter, although an example of a good communication, should not be a hospital's only communication with the media and other outside stakeholders concerning the process by which adverse events are handled at your institution. At Sorry Works, we have repeatedly encouraged you to reach out and share your disclosure program with local media, including known healthcare reporters, editorial boards, talk radio, and even prominent bloggers in your area. Discuss with these folks how adverse events were handled in the past, and how they will be handled now. Talk about how disclosure has worked at other hospitals and insurers around the country, and your hopes for disclosure with your hospital. There are many benefits to this approach, including:

  • The next time a reporter receives a tip that your hospital is unsafe, killed X number of patients, etc, the reporter/editor may give you the benefit of the doubt and contact you for a substantive conversation (as opposed to throwing you against a wall).
  • Working with the media is one way to educate your patient/family population and local attorneys about your new, ethical approach to adverse events.



  • It's truly authentic and unique advertising for your hospital. Who cares if you are a "Top 10 Hospital" according to some survey we've never heard of before? The public does not pay attention to that marketing garbage. But, get a story out there how your doctors are human and empathetic and have the integrity to own mistakes, well, now I'm paying attention and might be more likely to use your services. Follow?

"But, Doug, by publicly discussing our disclosure program aren't we inviting people to come looking for easy pay days?"

Answer: Maybe...but, you know what, anyone who would approach the hospital saying, "Hey, I heard you guys say 'sorry' and pay lots of money when people aren't happy, and my sister didn't like the care given by her doctor, so where's our money??" doesn't need a news story to make this approach to you. They are probably doing it already! And remember to keep the big picture in mind....for every scum bum there will be many more families and attorneys who will learn you are ethical and will be more willing to work with you post-event. Families will understand the door is open following an adverse event, and attorneys will know to call or e-mail before filing a lawsuit. But you have to get the word out there!

Remember, next Thursday, November 13th at 1pm ET/10am PT is our "Train the Trainer" Webinar on Disclosure and Apology. Great webinar for risk, claims, legal, c-suite, and medical and nursing leaders to train them so they can train your docs, nurses, and other front-line staff. Here is the link to register.


- Doug

Doug Wojcieszak, Founder, Sorry Works!



Hospital's Letter of Apology for Dallas Ebola Crisis

October 29, 2014

Dallas Presbyterian Hospital recently took out a full-page ad in a local newspaper to apologize for the Ebola crisis. I shared the letter through Sorry Works! social media outlets (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc) and it gained a lot of traction, so I thought it would be good to share it through this forum.

The letter wasn't over lawyered, but, instead, it was a candid admission of the hospital's shortcomings, said sorry, and discussed the changes they will make to ensure the safety of their patients and the community. I think it's a really good letter. To see for yourself, click on this link. I think this is a good example of disclosure and transparency with stakeholders in the media and the public. I've read plenty of weasel letters from lawyers, and this is not one of them. But judge for yourself.

Remember, on Thursday, November 13th at 1pm ET/10am PT, Sorry Works! will be holding a "Train the Trainer" Webinar on Disclosure and Apology. If your organization is considering disclosure and/or your are trying to get your leadership interested in disclosure, this webinar will help the cause. Great training webinar for risk, claims, legal, c-suite, and medical and nursing leaders. Please join us. Click on this link for registration information. Please join us!