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How an “apology program” can help reduce medical errors

| Apr 15, 2021 | Medical And Professional Malpractice

Medical mistakes are the third most common cause of death in this country. If you’ve suffered harm or a loved one has died due to a medical error, that might not be an astounding statistic to you. You probably also have found that medical providers and those who run medical facilities are loathe to admit to – let alone apologize for — their mistakes.

Certainly, an apology can help – especially in cases where the mistake can be fixed and the patient will soon be okay. However, research has found that accountability and apologies from medical providers can help prevent similar errors in the future. They can even cut malpractice suits by half.

What is CRP?

There’s even a medical apology protocol known as the Communication-and-Resolution Program (CRP). A recently published paper details how CRP has been implemented in some of the 200 hospitals across the country. Some state legislatures even mandate it.

In CRP, health care providers discuss the cause of an adverse outcome honestly with patients and their families and what they’ve learned from it so that they can prevent it from recurring with other patients. In some cases, the provider may offer compensation.

Getting away from “deny and defend”

The paper’s lead author, a physician and professor, says, “For decades hospitals, physicians and their insurance providers and attorneys have insisted on a ‘deny and defend’ approach to medical mistakes.” Getting an entire medical team to adopt an “apology program” isn’t always easy. However, the doctor notes that they’re most likely to succeed “when physicians are willing to take ownership of these programs and persuade their colleagues that apologizing for medical errors is not only the ethically right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do….”

An apology and explanation isn’t going to make up for the death of a loved one or an injury that will have lifelong repercussions. However, if your medical provider does take responsibility for an error, it can make seeking the compensation you need and deserve a bit easier. It’s wise to discuss your situation with an experienced attorney as soon as possible.