Saying "I'm Sorry" Can Prevent Angry Patients

While most docs are scared to death to admit any kind of misstep, an apology in the right circumstances can turn the corner and avoid an escalation in unpleasantness. Trying to talk a patient into believing that their eye isn't acctually drooping is just not going to work.

“The majority of people who file medical lawsuits file out of anger, not greed,” says Sorry Works! founder Doug Wojcieszak. “That anger is driven by lack of communication, being abandoned by doctors and no one taking responsibility for his mistakes. Apologizing and offering some up-front compensation reduces this anger.

” Seventeen states have enacted apology laws; some make remorseful words inadmissible in court if uttered soon after mishaps occur. U.S. Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Michael Enzi, R-Wyo., introduced the Reliable Medical Justice Act on June 29 to provide federal funding for apology projects around the nation. While the need for federal grants here is a mystery, Washington should encourage this concept without reflexively whipping out the checkbook. Implementing it in VA hospitals would be a solid start.