Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What if they started by saying 'I'm Sorry'?

When someone does you wrong - whether by accident or not - what do you really want? Well, first you want them to undo it or take it back. But also you want them to say 'I'm sorry'. It may not solve the problem, it makes you feel better. And if the error was compounded by policy or procedural problems, you want to work to help change the status quo and help prevent the same from happening to others. But the apology is what really helps.

Most people are quick to apologize. However doctors have not been allowed to apologize for errors as they might be taken as admission of guilt in malpractice lawsuits. But what if they could now start with an apology? Would that help? It would for me. If someone does something wrong or something happens that hurts when its not expected, a little apology helps.

When my drain was removed post surgery, I was told 'no problem, it doesn't hurt' by numerous friends, the doctor, and even the nurse who escorted us to the exam room where it was removed. Well they were all wrong. It hurt like hell to put it bluntly. It wasn't a grit your teeth experience, it was worse. My husband said both the doctor and nurse looked surprised and apologetic that it hurt that much. They couldn't say they were sorry about that or 'oops, we didn't expect that'. I would have appreciated that.

There is a new plan by a coalition of Massachusetts hospitals to offer an apology, financial settlement and a cooling off period before any malpractice lawsuit can be filed. And the additional suggestion is made that patients and their families be allowed to participate in committees to help change policy. Hmmm....

An error happens - its part of life.  But what if the doctor could start with I'm sorry without fear of it adding to a lawsuit. And what if people had a choice of financial settlement or had to wait six months before they could file a lawsuit. Maybe this would help slow down the 'ambulance chasing' lawyers who help incite the cases. Maybe this would lower malpractice insurance coverage and help stop forcing doctors out of medicine. I'm sorry if you disagree but I do agree.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree....sorry goes a long way and so do a few words of empathy and kindness. Kind words I never forget.

Getting back to drains I dropped the F bomb when my first of five drains was pulled! OMG!! I was so embarrassed....yet should I have been?

And no, I don't remember the word sorry....

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