Wednesday, March 19, 2008
I just read "Sorry Works!" by Doug Wojcieszak, James W. Saxton, and Maggie M. Finkelstein. I found the book's premise to be very interesting. The book argues that medical malpratice suits could be avoided through "disclosure and apology" programs. Sorry Works! posits that "anger - not greed - is what drives most customers to file medical malpractice lawsuits." Accordingly, the authors recommend that health care providers develop a disclosure and apology program.
Notably, the authors distinguish between saying "I'm sorry" - which is an "expression of sympathy" and an "apology", which is "an acceptance of responsibility or admission of fault." The authors provide concrete examples of this difference. "I'm sorry", for example, could include "I'm sorry about this complication..." or "I'm sorry for your loss." Apology, on the other hand, includes an admission of fault: "I'm sorry that I misread your x-ray." The book recommends that medical providers always offer an "I'm sorry" as a means of showing empathy, diffusing anger, and preventing misunderstanding. Apologies, on the other hand, should only be offered after investigation has indicated that a true medical error occurred. Very interesting concepts.