Sorry Works!

History and Mission

Our History & Mission

Sorry Works! was created in 2005 by me, Doug Wojciezak as a “pro-bono”  project through a small public relations firm I owned at the time.  The original goal of Sorry Works! was to be a vehicle through which the story of disclosure and apology, originally pioneered at the Lexington VA hospital by Dr. Steve Kraman and Ginny Hamm, JD, could be shared with hospitals and insurance companies throughout the United States.  We wanted Sorry Works! to show all the stakeholders (doctors, patients, lawyers, insurers, etc) that there was a more humane and economical way to address medical errors (versus the traditional deny and defend risk management strategies).  

Dr. Kraman and a few others agreed to be an informal board of directors for Sorry Works!, and the group was officially launched in February 2005 with a well-attended audio press conference that garnered several news stories, including a large piece in the American Medical Association newspaper.   From there, I created the first Sorry Works! website and started distributing an e-newsletter with disclosure stories/issues every one to two weeks.  The original e-mail distribution list was 50 or so e-mails addresses of friends and interested news reporters.  

Sorry Works! quickly caught fire over the next year.  The media (both popular and trade publications) continued to be fascinated with the novel and cost-saving approach to medical malpractice advocated by Sorry Works!  Stories appeared in numerous publications, including Time Magazine, and countless medical, insurance, and law industry trade publications.  The e-mail distribution list for the e-newsletters grew steadily with every media story, and I also started receiving request for speaking engagements.  

By late 2006, the “pro bono” Sorry Works! project which initially took less than five hours per week, quickly grew to 20 to 30 hours of my time per week.  While the success was heartening, the workload for Sorry Works! was crowding out my compensated work and something had to be done.  I enjoyed doing Sorry Works! and the attention garnered by Sorry Works! was truly thrilling, but with a wife and a baby at the time (who is now 10 years old!), I couldn’t keep doing Sorry Works! for free.

So, I had a choice to make: Incorporate Sorry Works!  as a non-profit and hope to raise funds to support it, or turn Sorry Works! into a for-profit limited liability corporation (LLC) and use paid speaking engagements and sales of content to support my work for Sorry Works!  I voted against the non-profit route in late 2006 for the following reasons:
    

  1. Despite the early success, Sorry Works! was relativity unknown in late 2006, and I believed it could easily be overlooked or dismissed by potential funders.  
  2. I was relatively unknown, especially in healthcare, and I did not have a formal healthcare background. At that time, there was a real bias against patient/family involvement in patient safety.  Moreover, within the risk management community, the prevailing thought was that only lawyers or doctors could teach doctors how to say “sorry.”   During 2005 and 2006 I was often told, “Well, you’re not a lawyer or doctor, so, there is nothing YOU can teach our medical staff!”  I am not kidding. 
  3. Disclosure was a very controversial topic in 2006, and taboo in many quarters.  I thought many potential funders would shy away from a group dedicated to advancing disclosure and apology. 
  4. I did not want to spend all of my time writing grant applications and begging for money…instead, I wanted to use my time creating and selling content to teach healthcare professionals how to communicate with patients and families after something goes wrong. 

So, I chose the for-profit LLC status for Sorry Works!  Despite the controversy surrounding disclosure and apology in 2006/2007, there was a real appetite in the market place for content about disclosure, including speeches and books.  And the hunger for this information was so great that people were willing to overlook the fact that Sorry Works! and me were unknowns. Sorry Works! became an Illinois limited liability corporation in 2007, and began selling lots of content.

Over the last nine years (2007 through 2016), I have authored two books (Sorry Works! 2.0 and the Sorry Works! Tool Kit Book) and one booklet (The Little Book of Empathy) through Sorry Works! and have sold over 35,000 copies of these publications.   Sorry Works! 2.0 has been translated into Korean and Japanese, and the Little Book of Empathy was translated into Japanese.  The publication of these books/booklets led to hundreds of compensated speeches and training engagements in 43 different states for acute and long-term healthcare organizations, as well as Canada, Australia, and Poland.   Sorry Works! has a national and international following.  I have also given dozens of webinars to thousands of healthcare, insurance, and legal professionals over the last nine years.  Sorry Works! has developed on-line disclosure training content with The Sullivan Group, and we have partnered with Steve and Larry Kraman in the marketing and sales of the “Full Disclosure” Documentary.  The Sorry Works! website is viewed by nearly 500 unique visitors per day, and the Sorry Works e-newsletters list has nearly 2,000 subscribers.  Sorry Works! also has a strong and growing presence in social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn).   And, through the years I have also conducted countless media interviews with popular and trade publications.  

Not only has the revenue from book sales and speaking/training engagements provided me the chance to work for Sorry Works!, but it has allowed Sorry Works! to be a large, visible force for the disclosure movement.  I can say without bragging that Sorry Works! has had a major hand in propelling the disclosure movement forward.  Sorry Works! has raised much awareness about disclosure and apology, and Sorry Works! training seminars and content have taught disclosure techniques and principles to tens of thousands of healthcare, insurance, and legal professionals around the country.  Sorry Works! is literally the brand name of the disclosure movement.   

By generating revenue in a for-profit model, Sorry Works! has a proud record of advancing the disclosure movement, but there is more work to do.    We need to educate the public and the trial bar about disclosure…we must share best disclosure practices (and also share failures) across the country…and we will need to continue training front-line clinicians, as well as leaders, in acute and long-term care organizations.  

 

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Need to Transform Sorry Works! into 501c3 Non Profit Organization

I have noticed a decline in book sales and also speaking engagements over the last two years.   There are only so many books that one can sell about a particular topic, and there is a lot more competition out there.  This is especially true with speaking and training engagements, as large risk management consulting groups are marketing themselves for disclosure training to hospitals and long-term care organizations. 

I believe the time has arrived to revisit the issue of LLC vs. non-profit for Sorry Works!, and I  am now advocating that Sorry Works! become a 501c3 non-profit organization.   In short, the problems that we would have encountered making Sorry Works! a non-profit in 2006/2007 are no longer present (or are significantly diminished).  Becoming a 501c3 route would allow Sorry Works! to a) pursue revenue from new sources (foundations, charities, non-profits, individual donors, etc) and b) spend more time on non-revenue generating work that advances the disclosure movement.   Sorry Works! and myself are very well-known in healthcare, insurance, and legal circles, and we have an impressive track record.  Moreover, patients and families are now welcome partners in improving patient safety, and I have personally taught disclosure techniques and principles to thousands of clinicians as well as insurance and legal professionals.   Disclosure is no longer controversial, but much work remains to be done, and Sorry Works! will be uniquely positioned as a non-profit to fill many different roles in the disclosure movement.   Indeed, Sorry Works! would have a more favorable chance pursuing non-profit funding in 2016 (versus 10 years ago). 

However, as a non-profit, Sorry Works! can continue to fulfill its revenue generating activities (speeches, training seminars, book sales, etc).  There is nothing unethical or illegal about a non-profit selling their services or content --- non-profit hospitals do it every day! 


New Sources of Revenue for Non-Profit Sorry Works!

A foundation, charity, or individual donor will probably never hire Sorry Works! to give a compensated speech or even purchase a book from us, but, if these organizations or individuals see value in our work/mission they can make tax-deductible donations to us (since Sorry Works! will become a 501c3).  I believe there are many organizations and people that will make large and small donations to Sorry Works! once we have a 501c3 status.  


Non-revenue generating activities for Sorry Works! that Will Support the Disclosure Movement: 

With donations, Sorry Works! can pursue activities other than paid speeches or selling books.   Here are some topics/areas we can focus on as a non-profit:

  • Educate the public about disclosure through the media, social media, and by partnering with special interests group like AARP and others. The public does not know much about disclosure and apology, and they don’t know what to expect from clinicians post-event or how to engage their doctor/hospital after something goes wrong.  We can help here – significantly.   Sorry Works! has unique attributes and qualities that suit it to lead education efforts with the public and also the trial bar. 
  • Continue to educate med-mal stakeholders with more aggressive media and social media work (more aggressive than we have been able to do as an LLC).
  • Generate reports and research projects concerning topics of interest to the disclosure movement. 
  • Advocacy work for legislation and regulatory reform that supports and promotes disclosure (this would NOT include supporting candidates, which is prohibited for 501c3 organizations).  We could help more states follow lead of Massachusetts and Oregon. 
  • Use some donations to provide “unpaid” speeches and staff booths at industry conferences and events.   Do more physical outreach with stakeholders.  
  • Give away content to organizations and individuals that have tight or restricted budgets.   
  • Continue training front-line clinicians and leadership in acute and long-term care health organizations as well as claims, risk, and legal professionals. 


Sorry Works’ Unique Attributes That Position it to Serve the Disclosure Movement;

  1. Sorry Works! Founder Doug Wojcieszak has experienced medical errors twice in his family, and Wojcieszak has trained thousands of healthcare, insurance, and legal professionals on disclosure techniques and principles.   Wojcieszak is also a PR professional by training.  Sorry Works! is uniquely positioned to serve the disclosure movement, especially with educating the public. 

  2. Sorry Works! doesn’t pull punches – we are not owned by a healthcare consulting company or insurer worried about “relationships” with clients or potential clients.   Nor are we wedded to any patient safety advocacy groups.  We call them like we see them.  Sorry Works! is a clear, unencumbered voice for the disclosure movement, which is so important when discussing transparency! 

  3. Sorry Works! is the brand of the disclosure movement, and very well-known in healthcare, insurance, and legal circles.   We have a large following. 

  4. Sorry Works! is the only national organization dedicated solely to disclosure and apology.  It’s what we do 24/7. 

  5. Sorry Works! is the only national disclosure training organization with an active website that attracts nearly 500 visitors per day, regular e-newsletters, and vibrant social media presence. 

  6. Sorry Works! is a long-standing, reputable source for popular and trade media outlets.    Reporters know us.   

  7. We have a virtual library of content about disclosure that will continue to be upgraded and updated.