'Sorry Works!' but not for Doug Wojcieszak

The Madison County Record Jan. 7, 2012, 3:49am

"Sorry Works!" is a program developed and promoted by Metro East gadfly Doug Wojcieszak, ostensibly to address the medical malpractice liability crisis.

Wojcieszak is a public relations man who has worked both sides of the issue: for groups supporting tort reform and more recently, for groups opposing it.

"Sorry Works! works because it stops anger," declares Wojcieszak.

"Anger – not greed – is what drives med-mal lawsuits," he said. "Patients and families get angry after a bad outcome when doctors run away and hide in the name of 'risk management.' Broken communication leads to patients calling trial lawyers and bringing lawsuits."

Wojcieszak's idea is for doctors and hospitals to take a customer satisfaction approach to their patients and apologize when something goes wrong (without admitting fault), then investigate the complaints, share the results, and make amends if appropriate.

It's an interesting approach, but is it realistic?

Some lawsuits undoubtedly are driven by anger rather than greed, as Wojcieszak contends, and compassion and good manners might deter them; but greed is undeniably a factor in many suits.

This is true of medical malpractice claims as well as other tort cases. Doug Wojcieszak has personal knowledge of this phenomenon.

Wojcieszak knows an Edwardsville man who is suing some cabinet makers and installers for unsatisfactory workmanship. The man had custom cabinets installed in a house he bought for just under $400,000 in 2007.

Two years later, the man complained about degradation of the cabinets and had them replaced free of charge.

A year later, he complained again and was denied a second replacement.

The man claims it will cost him $30,000 to replace the cabinets on his own, but he's suing, in Madison County Circuit Court, for $900,000.

That's more than twice the value of his home, more than 30 times what he claims is the cost of replacing the cabinets.

Is anger driving that lawsuit, or is it greed? Only Doug Wojcieszak knows for sure. He's the plaintiff.

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