HealthcareTomorrow

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

SorryWorks - Yesterday I came across a great organization called The Sorry Works! Coalition (www.sorryworks.net). Sorry Works encourages healthcare providers to fully disclose medical errors to patients and their families right off of the bat. The result, they say, is that malpractice litigation is avoided in most cases, because the patient and family get what they want from the beginning - an admission of responsibility and an apology.

This is not a new concept (I have seen literature on apologies before), but I was surprised that I had not heard about this organization until now. With all the fuss about medical malpractice costs over the past few years, why hasn't this program received more attention? My guess is that the medical malpractice insurance carriers believe that they will see a bigger impact on their bottom-lines from capping awards. Indeed, as Health Affairs has recently confirmed, the increase in medical malpractice premiums over the past number of years far exceeds the payouts to plaintiffs. Where do you think that money is going? (Please don't read that I am anti-profit - every for-profit company has that right - but one of healthcare's key problems is that it's costs are out of control and money taken out of the system by corporate profit is money not spent on improving the nation's health status.)

This concept just makes sense and it is the right thing to do. Organizations need to take a serious look at this and ask themselves why they are letting defense attorneys and risk managers get in the way of doing the right thing. If SorryWorks really works, then everyone, providers and patients, will be better off.