The Truth Has Currency in Healthcare…Finally

October 15th, 2009   •   no comments   
Apologies Are Better Than a Great Lawyer

Unknown to most of us laypeople, insurance companies, in an effort to curb the potential for medical malpractice lawsuits, continues policies that prevent doctors and hospitals who’ve made mistakes from saying two powerful words.  But now, as Congress continues their heady debate to control health care costs, they’re starting to look at truthful tellings to cut costs, an experiment in progress at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and other major healthcare institutions.

So, what are the finding is the best way to avoid the malpractice suits?  Something quite simple.  (It’s always that way…isn’t it?)

“I’m sorry.”  That’s all it takes.  Sometimes. “We made a mistake.”

Reports Tamra Keith, of American Public Radio, “The lobby of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore is plastered with blown up covers from U.S. News and World Report’s best hospitals issue. Hopkins has been featured in it year after year. But even here, doctor and nurses sometimes make mistakes.”

Kai Ryssdal, reporting for “Marketplace” on American Public Radio, reports that much of the expense in medical costs involve extra tests and medical procedures that are designed to shield hospitals and doctors from the risk of exposure.  Ryssdal says: “A health-care overhaul may or may not do something to change
that.”

Listen to the report at American Public Radio’s website:


Richard Boothman, the Chief Risk Officer for the University of Michigan Health System offers his view: “Let’s just cut through the baloney, and we should just step up and take care of those cases where a true medical mistake was created.” Since Boothman took over in 2002,has been able to cut its malpractice insurance cash reserves to $13 million, from more than $70 million.

What should this kind of frankness be telling us in the business to business world about apologies?  That they sometimes make sense?  That we might risk more by not admitting fault than by coming out with the bad news in the first place? 

What is so hard about someone in Tech Support for… let’s say a company like Apple Computer, saying: “I’m really sorry; we’ve got some bugs with this release of this Operating System but I think it will be worth working them out.  I’d like to help you find away to fix the problems, though…can we do that?”

I think this is the front edge of something important to watch: honesty in communications, relations.

Email me at george@theapgconsulting.com

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