We get this question quite a bit at The Sorry Works! Coalition. Sorry Works! is a term used to describe a process of communication and reconciliation between healthcare providers, patients, and families. And Sorry Works! is more than "sorry"….it’s also about admitting fault, explaining what went wrong and how it will be fixed so another patient doesn’t suffer the same injury, and offering fair, upfront compensation to patients and families.
The process we call Sorry Works! was originally developed at the VA Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky by Dr. Steve Kraman and VA attorney Ginny Hamm in the late 80’s. Their process has been successfully implemented in many other hospitals and healthcare organizations across the country and around the world.
In short, here’s how Sorry Works! works. After a bad medical outcome or adverse event, the healthcare providers and risk management staff perform a root cause analysis as quickly as possible to determine if the standard of medical care was met – or not. If the standard was not met and there was an error, the healthcare and risk management staff contact the patient and/or family, advise them to retain legal counsel, and schedule a neutral place to meet. At the meeting, the healthcare providers will apologize, admit fault, explain what happened and how they will strive to make sure it doesn’t happen again, and offer, fair upfront compensation to the patient and/or family. This honesty and candor removes anger and the urge to financially punish doctors with a lawsuit.
On the flip side, if there was no error, the healthcare providers still meet with the patient and/or family and explain their findings, open medical charts, and basically prove their innocence. They emphasize with the patient and family, but no compensation is offered. The patient, family and their legal counsel is encouraged to have their own experts review the charts. This openness reduces the filing of non-meritorious lawsuits. Furthermore, Sorry Works! hospitals never settle cases in which they believe their staff committed no error.
That’s Sorry Works! in a nutshell. Almost sounds too simple, but it is the most effective and meaningful way to reduce medical malpractice lawsuits, strengthen doctor-patient relationships, and reduce the chances of future medical errors. Learn more!