Friday, July 15, 2005

Saying I'm Sorry

Doctors Should Say They're Sorry, Avoid Malpractice Suits
"The majority of people who file medical lawsuits file out of anger, not greed," says Sorry Works! founder Doug Wojcieszak. "That anger is driven by lack of communication, being abandoned by doctors and no one taking responsibility for his mistakes. Apologizing and offering some up-front compensation reduces this anger."

Seventeen states have enacted apology laws; some make remorseful words inadmissible in court if uttered soon after mishaps occur. U.S. Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Michael Enzi, R-Wyo., introduced the Reliable Medical Justice Act on June 29 to provide federal funding for apology projects around the nation. While the need for federal grants here is a mystery, Washington should encourage this concept without reflexively whipping out the checkbook. Implementing it in VA hospitals would be a solid start.

This terrific idea should sweep the nation. To cure medical-malpractice lawsuits, "sorry" shouldn't be the hardest word.