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Hospitals Apologize To Lower Medical Malpractice Costs

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, March 09, 2009 2:05 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Medical Malpractice, Doctors, Hospitals, Medical Error

Sorry works encourages doctors and hospitals to apologize to save court costs.



IMAGE SOURCE:   Sorry Works Coalition Web site


Donald Platt just wanted an apology.  His doctor had failed to diagnose a tumor growing on his kidney. By the time it was properly diagnosed, the tumor had grown to the size of a baseball. His doctor never apologized.

“If he had, I probably never would have sued,” he tells theMcClatchy-Tribune Information Services.  He didn’t get the apology, and he did sue.

Close to 100,000 people are killed by medical mistakes every year and in New Jersey they are trying to stem the tide of medical malpractice cases that follows in an estimated one in eight cases.

In an about face to the defensive practice of  arming each side with attorneys,  Hospital officials are hoping saying “we’re sorry” will cut down on lawsuits and save money.  New Jersey hospitals are admitting they made mistakes and the doctors are encouraged to admit making errors. 

“We want to try to do the right thing in these instances and resolve things … in a better way than blood and guts litigation,” according to Larry Downs, counsel with the Medical Society of New Jersey.

So far the “Sorry Works,” campaign is being evaluated but proponents say it’s reduced the cost of going to court by two-thirds at some of its hospitals.

Still, the hospital association is worried that apologizing will give ammunition to lawsuits. 

Injuryboard Partner, Chicago Nick Averginos reports on the same experiment in a Chicago hospital . Out of 37 instances of medical malpractice, only one patient sued after everyone received an apology.

Doug Wojcieszak, an Edwardsville, Ill., resident founded Sorry Works!   in 2005 as a “middle-ground solution."

The Illinois Senate passed legislation that would create a pilot Sorry Works! Program. In addition to an apology, patients are compensated for their injuries.  

Johns Hopkins, Children's Hospitals and Clinics in Minneapolis and the University of Michigan Health System are among facilities that created disclosure policies in recent years that are similar to what Sorry Works! is advocating.

According to Sorry Works!, the University of Michigan Health System saw legal costs drop to $1 million annually, down from the $3 million previously spent.  #

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