Medical Malpractice: Will an Apology Help?
Medical malpractice has been an current challenge for the healthcare industry. Will apologizing to patients reduce malpractice lawsuits?
It’s been said that medical errors are one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. By the time they reach 65, the majority of doctors and internists have faced at the minimum one malpractice lawsuit during their careers. Patient safety advocate groups have been trying for years to help the situation by education and the spreading of information, and citizens and legislation have attempted to implement new rules to create change, but it just seems as if nothing is working.
For many years medical professionals were discouraged from offering an apology. They didn’t want to let in guilt and then be sued for millions of dollars. Doctors have been condition to be suspicious of malpractice claims and to avoid them at all costs. “Deny and defend” was the mindset in the old days of the malpractice system.
The without of communication is a major factor in why patients opt to pursue a malpractice lawsuit. For many people, an explanation would have sufficed. The attitude is, “If someone had just talked to me, none of this ever would have happened.” After all, we are all human and mistakes do happen.
There are ideas that have come up to enhance the malpractice liability program in hospitals. One idea is to have claims reviewed by impartial medical providers. If a real mistake that rule to harm was discovered, the medical professionals were promoted to apologize confront to confront and a reasonable cash settlement would be offered. Some states like Massachusetts have passed a law that allow doctors to be more transparent with patients without worrying that their words would be used against them in court. Unfortunately, the idea of “disclose and early offer” has been slow to catch on although it has been working for some hospital systems.
The bottom line is that people just wanted to be treated humanely. They want to trust their doctors and have strong communication with them. If a mistake happens, a sincere apology and explanation helps to ease the psychological pain.
If you’re a medical specialized, have you ever been in a situation where you felt inclined to apologize for a mistake but was discouraged from doing so? Do you think saying “Sorry” would help decline medical malpractice claims overall? What are some other ways that we can help to prevent malpractice lawsuits?