Sorry Works! is the middle ground

The Madison County Record Dec. 11, 2004, 11:00pm

To the Editor:

The December 6 letter “Reform requires more than I’m Sorry” by State Medical Society President Dr. Kenneth Printen was a bit heartening, but it shows we have a long way to go.

Dr. Printen wrote that Sorry Works! may be included in a reform bill (which is a good step), but he dismissed Sorry Works! as the solution to the medical malpractice crisis. Really?

Sorry Works! has been shown to reduce lawsuits, lower settlement costs, and reduce overall liability costs while providing justice to more victims in a quicker fashion and without limiting constitutional rights. It seems like Sorry Works! is the “middle ground” solution all sides have been seeking in this debate.

Don’t believe us? Look at the numbers from the University of Michigan Hospital system and other hospitals around the United States that are trying this approach with success.

In his letter, Dr. Printen argues for legal protections from apologies, which we are not opposed to, but just not sure why they are really necessary. Under Sorry Works, when an error happens a doctor apologizes and offers fair compensation to the family and their attorney.

If a lawsuit results, the only issue that both sides will be fighting over is the size of the award – not the question of fault. The doctor will march into court looking like the good person who tried to do the right thing by apologizing and offering a fair settlement, while the plaintiff will look greedy.

No wonder only three lawsuits went to trial over a 16-year period at the Lexington, Kentucky VA Hospital. The apology provides protection – not exposure – for a doctor. Why would Dr. Printen want to surrender that advantage?

The bottomline is with Sorry Works! doctors, insurers, and hospital administrators have the goals of tort reform in their reach now without the protracted political and legal fights guaranteed with “caps.”

Finally, your readers ultimately may have trouble believing that Sorry Works! really does work. They may call it a “setup” or a ruse. We ask your readers to set aside the emotions and politics of the med-mal debate and focus on data and logical, published arguments.

The literature is starting to be overrun with documented cases where apologies have reduced medical lawsuits and liability costs. Sorry Works! is the future and the fix we all seek to the medical malpractice crisis.

Doug Wojcieszak
Victims and Families United
Glen Carbon

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