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The Sorry Works! Coalition: Making the Case for Full Disclosure

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Background: The Sorry Works! Coalition, an organization of doctors, lawyers, insurers, and patient advocates, is dedicated to promoting full disclosure and apologies for medical errors as a "middle-ground solution" in the medical liability crisis. If a standard of care was not met (as shown by a root cause analysis) in a bad outcome or adverse event, the providers (and their insurer) should apologize to the patient/family, admit fault, provide an explanation of what happened and how the hospital will ensure that the error is not repeated, and offer compensation. The Sorry Works! protocol is based on the disclosure program developed at the Department of Veterans Affairs Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky.

Goals: The coalition's goals are to (1) educate all stakeholders in the medical liability debate, (2) serve as an organizing force for the full-disclosure movement, and (3) advocate for legislative incentives, including pilot programs.

Overcoming Cultural and Legal Obstacles: In large part, the coalition's educational efforts are intended to overcome cultural and legal barriers to full disclosure, which often represent emotional, knee-jerk responses within the medical, insurance, and legal communities. Perhaps the greatest hurdle of all is the culture of the medical profession; considerable changes are needed if doctors are to enjoy the benefits of Sorry Works! and other full-disclosure programs.

Conclusion: Sorry Works! entails changing the culture of medicine, medical risk management, and the associated insurance and legal support structure.

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Publication date: 2006-06-01

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