Malpractice Lawsuits Less Likely When Doctors Apologize
Something as simple as an apology may reduce the number of medical malpractice lawsuits. It’s an innovative approach to a touchy problem.
Little Rock, AR (Law Firm Newswire) November 4, 2010 - “If your doctor said that he or she was really sorry about what happened to you, would you perhaps make the decision to not sue them for medical malpractice?” asked Michael Smith, an Arkansas personal Injury attorney. It seems that might just happen in some instances.
This is a new approach to doing medicine being implemented in the University of Michigan health system and is a deceptively simple program that has resulted in a dramatic drop in medical malpractice lawsuits. “What does it involve? Well, oddly enough, the program promotes medical professionals taking complete responsibility for any medical error they made and acknowledging it was an error. Evidently, malpractice suits have dropped by 60 percent,” Smith said.
This new way to practice medicine is patterned after the Texas program dubbed “Sorry Works,” and it seems to be working well for the University of Michigan. The program sees those who have made medical errors admit to the error, say they are sorry for the mistake, implement procedures to avoid it happening again and offering reasonable compensation for any harm caused. This simple, yet effective approach has diverted a lot of malpractice suits.
“Stop and think about that one for a minute. If you had come to harm at the hands of your doctor and they in turn denied responsibility and liability for the error, how would you feel? Most patients would feel victimized and want to sue to recover compensation for their medical bills, pain and suffering, etc,” said Arkansas accident lawyer Smith.
“On the other hand, if the doctor came to you and said right upfront that they made a mistake and were very sorry for it and worked to ensure it never happened again and even offered you compensation, what would your reaction be?” he asked. Chances are, if a patient injured at the hands of a medical professional gets a heartfelt apology, they won’t sue. Human beings appreciate sincerity and honesty, even when it comes to medical mistakes that may have harmed them.
This kind of an open approach to dealing with malpractice is a refreshing change from the deny everything routine and hiring the best defense lawyers going to squash the claim and the claimant. All victims really want is for someone to take responsibility for their mistakes, and that includes medical professionals – who are, after all, human beings who can and do make mistakes.
When it’s evident a mistake has been made and the doctor/nurse denies it, many patients seek legal redress out of desperation and a sense of being wronged. “Which, when you mull that over, makes perfect sense.
It’s being betrayed by someone you are supposed to trust and when they don’t take responsibility for their screw up, it hurts, angers, aggravates and drives people to sue,” Smith said.
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