Sorry Works!

Sorry Works! Blog

Making Disclosure A Reality For Healthcare Organizations 

Question from Road: Can't Get Disclosure Program, Now What?

July 22, 2010Doug Wojcieszak, Founder & Spokesperson Contact phone/e-mail address: 618-559-8168;

QUESTION FROM ROAD: CAN'T GET DISCLOSURE PROGRAM, NOW WHAT? I was in New York City yesterday speaking at the Association of Program Directors in Internal Medicine (APDIM) meeting --- great audience. I spoke for 45 minutes in the morning session, and, then in the afternoon, I had two separate break-out sessions where small groups from the morning audience were able to ask questions as well as share their own stories and observations. The break-out sessions were an absolutely terrific forum where I received some amazing questions that I will be sharing with you over the next week in this space.

Here is actually the last question I received yesterday afternoon:

"I'm a residency program director, and let's say despite my best efforts, I just can't get a full-scale disclosure program going at my hospital...what can I do? What can I teach my residents? What I should encourage them to do following an adverse event?"

This question actually applies to many of you! Many hospitals and insurance companies have not started disclosure programs, and if asked to do so, it may take months or even years to get operational. To be fair, there are many hospitals and insurers that are ready to take the step of launching a disclosure program, and being asked by their physicians and nurses will hasten that process....but it will still take time to get fully operational. On the flip slide, there are still today many hospitals and insurers with a thousand excuses why disclosure won't work in their setting, from the defense attorney who continually interrupts with, "But, but, but, but..." to the exasperated risk manager who noisily bleats, "But the doctors aren't ready for this....the doctors aren't ready for this!!" Please.

What should our residency director do? What should you do if faced with this situation?

Answer: The Five Key Facts!

The Five Key Facts are the heart of our current Sorry Works! presentations....the Five Key Facts are what we call the basic disclosure tools every clinician needs, and, the cool part is, nobody can say "no" to the Five Key Facts or prevent you and your colleagues from doing them!

The Five Key Facts are: 1) Disclosure is good for providers; 2) Five- Star builds solid relationships pre-event; 3) Empathy and nothing more (no apology) immediately following an event keeps relationships alive with patients and families; 4) call somebody immediately after empathy; 5) train everybody - especially nurses - on Five-Star and empathy.

Nobody can stop you from building great relationships pre- event with patients, families, and - oh yeah - your colleagues.

Nobody can stop you from initially saving those relationships post-event by saying "I'm sorry this happened....we're going to learn why this happened..." and providing terrific customer service to help patients/families through their most dire moments.

And every attorney and risk manager should be happy somebody called after an event (as opposed to finding out about an event when a request for records appears or worse, we're getting sued).

And nobody can stop nurses and other staff from doing Five- Star & empathy as well.

Do it!

At the minimum, the Five Key Facts will get cases more quickly into the laps of defense and risk, and when those cases get to risk/legal the patient/family won't be thoroughly ticked at the hospital....and if risk/defense is smart they will try to be pro- active and deal with these situations before they blossom into lawsuits. Indeed, the Five Key Facts give risk and legal a chance to do their jobs better. Even cases that move forward to litigation will be more defensible because the front-line docs and nurses will have behaved appropriately.

The Five Key Facts are common sense risk management strategies that can help even if your hospital still believes in dancing with patients, families, and their attorneys. Moreover, the Five Key Facts - especially the simple sorrys (empathy) - can defuse countless situations and prevent many problems from escalating to full-scale litigation. This stuff really works!

For more information on Sorry Works! presentations with the Five Key Facts for your doctors and nurse, call or e-mail at 618-559-8168 or


- Doug

Doug Wojcieszak, Founder Sorry Works! PO Box 531 Glen Carbon, IL 62034 618-559-8168 (direct dial)