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  • Writer's pictureSaundra Smyrski

Apology Laws: Changing the Game for All?

Pocket Knife vs. Assault Rifle... who wins?

In the field of law enforcement, the instruction most often was, "Meet force with force." In other words, if an individual pulls out a pocket knife, under most circumstances, it would not be justifiable to defer straight to your handgun.

Why am I bringing this up? Where am I going? You see, In America, the most widely accepted health system framework does not abide by this long-standing principle.

In lieu of its contradictory systems, people are growing sicker (for longer- yay innovation), our cemeteries are expeditiously more populated, the suicide rate for healthcare personnel is steadily rising, all the while "they're" championing, "We need more physicians! We need more nurses!"

Would you believe me if I proposed...

By reconfiguring the most widely adopted, consistently imploding, health system framework and culture, surrounding #medicalerror / #medicalmalpractice we would depart on the trajectory towards decreasing medical errors AND medical malpractice lawsuits?

Believe it.

Physicians are human. Nurses are human. You and I are human. How would you feel if you were forevermore denied the right, to right a wrong? If every time you made a mistake, no matter how awful you felt, you were no longer allowed to say, "I'm sorry," or attempt to make it right? Can you see how this would become toxic, rather swiftly? Yet, these are the grounds upon which our healthcare providers are expected to adhere to. When patients are harmed, most #physicians and #nurses truly yearn to apologize and make it right.

One study notes, "320/338 physicians indicated that they felt obligated to tell patients about a mistake ; however, only 5% reported that they had disclosed major errors (Ross & Newman, 2021)."

In theory, disclosing an error would seems to potentiate the likelihood of a patient or family seeking a #lawyer to pursue #litigation. "In practice, however, bad outcomes alone are typically not reason enough for patients or their families to file malpractice claims (Ross & Newman, 2021)."

Many patients outwardly admit a lack of apology or transparency prompted their decision to pursue legal action.

Newly implemented, " error disclosure programs demonstrate a role for apologies in reducing malpractice claims." Several health systems in the US have implemented "disclosure programs" with the goal of decreasing medical errors and increasing transparency. These programs, and their factual decrease in malpractice events, confirm the hypothesis that provider apologies decrease, not increase, the likelihood of malpractice litigation.

I fervently strive to be a voice for the injured; those afflicted by medical errors (patients) and those afflicted by medical culture (providers). I have made it my mission to bridge the gap between injury and impact... and little by little, I am doing just that.


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