Is ‘Sorry’ the Hardest Word in Health Care? #hcr #medicalapologies

OPENLY apologizing also has the potential to turn a problem into a teachable moment for employees, thereby preventing a repeat occurrence, says Paul Levy, the chief executive of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

In 2008, a surgeon at his hospital mistakenly operated on the wrong side of a patient. The doctor and other hospital personnel apologized. And Mr. Levy publicly dissected the event on his blog, called “Running a Hospital.”

The medical profession, he says, was initially hesitant to embrace contrition. But, he says, “as in any field, once you have a few leaders do it and the world doesn’t end and, in fact, is made better, then people tend to follow.”

Very timely topic… but equally controversial. Have spoken to many physicians, administrators, plaintiff and defense attorneys about this… and of course I get many varied and heartfelt responses.

Apologies need not be feared as an admission of guilt

….and once offered,  an apology should not be *empty*.  It should put into place a process where the issue that arose is investigated, a root cause analysis is performed and actions taken to prevent the issue from arising in the future.  Apologies work… they work within the framework of our family, they work in the corporate world— and many (most) politicians have apologized for this and that and we have re-elected them.   Why is *Sorry* the hardest word in healthcare?
Your thoughts?


About hjluks

A busy Academic Orthopedic Surgeon, Digital Strategist, Chief Medical Officer and father... intently and efficiently navigating the intersection of Social Media and Health Care.
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