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Doctors find value in saying “sorry”

The University of Michigan Health System found that the number of malpractice claims filed against them has been halved, the backlog of open claims reduced, the amount of time to resolve a claim lessened and the costs per claim reduced fifty percent. The health system’s risk officer said the change that brought about these benefits is the practice of apologizing when a mistake is made and offering compensation at that time. Some are skeptical of the practice, fearing that doctors’ admissions of errors will be used against them in court. David N. Goodman, Newsday 07/20/2009

Jim Williams notes “I’ve noticed on intakes a huge increase in apologies. Now I see why. It’s commonsense really: the worst doctors with the best bedside manners can have fewer claims than the surgeon with the hands of God who has the disposition of the devil himself.”

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