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Making Disclosure A Reality For Healthcare Organizations 

Iowa Doctors and Trial Lawyers Working Together on Disclosure & Apology

Hawkeye State physicians and personal injury lawyers are working together to promote disclosure and apology. These long-time adversaries are joined hand-in-hand on legislation in the Iowa capitol that is similar to recently established state-wide programs in Oregon and Massachusetts, including the fact that disclosure-related conversations cannot be shared with regulatory authorities. Significant accomplishment. News article is linked below. I want to stop right here.

When you think about this story I don't want you to have visions of your own state capitol, but, instead, think about the lawyers in your own life. The lawyers who represent your organization, and the lawyers who typically sue your facility. If disclosure can bring together the Hatfields and McCoys under the dome of the Iowa capital, why can't you do the same with the lawyers in your life? Disclosure literally gives you a chance to re-shape the relationship with defense and plaintiff's counsel, and how these folks work together for the benefit of your clinicians, patients, and families. You don't have to wait for your state to follow the lead of Iowa, Oregon, and Massachusetts (great if they do), you can do it on your own. Many other hospitals and insurers around the country have already done so, or are doing it right now.

Talk with your defense counsel, bring them on board....a few might need to be re-educated, and one or two may even have to go. Also talk with your local plaintiffs about how you want to work with them through disclosure and apology. Consider the following quote from Iowa regarding this joint effort by doctors and lawyers:

"Dr. Michael McCoy, a Burlington obstetrician who worked on the proposal, said most doctors want to be honest with their patients. But too often, he said, the doctors are given legal advice not to disclose errors to patients for fear of a lawsuit. 'Everybody kind of freaks out, and nobody says anything,"'he said at a House subcommittee meeting. '... That system just doesn't work.'

Brian Galligan, a Des Moines attorney who is president-elect of the lawyers' group, agreed with McCoy that many patients would be satisfied with the truth, an apology and a plan to prevent errors in the future. Patients are more likely to file lawsuits if they don't get those things, he said. Their initial goal isn't to win a big judgment. 'We often have clients come in and say, 'I want to know what happened, and I want to make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else,''' Galligan said in an interview."

You don't need a state-wide push to have these discussions with your lawyers and doctors too. You simply need to establish your own disclosure program. Sorry Works! is here to help. You know, for many organizations the journey to disclosure starts with the Little Book of Empathy and the newly released Pocket Notes. The Little Book of Empathy is great for c-suite, risk, claims, legal, and managers, while Pocket Notes is built for front-line staff. Order your copies here.

Here is the news article about the push by Iowa doctors and trial lawyers.