The value of an apology — 5 points on what patients want after a medical error

Mary Rechtoris - Print  |

Many patients want providers to say they are sorry with an explanation of what went wrong after suffering a medical error, according to CNN.

Here are five points:

1. After Yale New Haven (Conn.) Hospital surgeons removed the wrong part of her rib, a patient said she is suing the hospital because she never heard the words, "I'm sorry."

2. Thirty-six states have "I'm sorry" laws in place so plaintiffs can't use apologies against medical professionals in court.

3. Many patients don't wait to sue, and are less likely to pursue legal action if a provider gives a full apology, explains how the mistake happened and involves the patient in steps to ensure it does not happen to another patient.

4. Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford in California implemented a program, Collaborative for Accountability and Improve, which promotes communication and resolution after medical errors. From 2009 to 2015, the hospital's indemnity costs decreased 27 percent, and the amount of money spent defending lawsuits decreased 24 percent.

5. In the United States, medical practice payouts reached $3.9 billion in 2014.

More articles on quality & infection control:
Are Enterprise Intelligence Resources the new EMRs? 6 insights
Time to break the silence — 4 notes on surgeons coping after an adverse event
Patient sues Yale New Haven Hospital for alleged wrong-site surgery: 4 points

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