The words “I’m sorry, I made a mistake” can be difficult to say. Maybe there is a reputation to uphold by the wrongdoer; perhaps embarrassment exists around having made the mistake. But in our business, a defendant’s ability to give an apology can go a long way – and sometimes an apology is all that our plaintiff needs to hear.
NPR recently produced program, Tact, Tone and Timing: The Power of Apology, highlighting the difference that an apology can make, and one specific industry specifically where an apology is hard to get.
In the medical profession, a doctor giving an apology and accepting fault is not always accepted within the industry. NPR’s guest, Dr. Manoj Jain, discusses the delicate subject of the client-patient relationship. In his own experience, making an error in his medical practice brought out an inherent desire to be honest and open when having made a mistake. Many of the doctor’s colleagues questioned his decision to apologize and admit fault. Dr. Jain sites legislation and a shift in the profession that is encouraging this type of disclosure, which ultimately helps to enhance the doctor-patient relationship. A current graduate from the University of Colorado School of Medicine explained that from the first day of the program, students are taught to apologize – and to do so in a genuine manner – when a mistake or error is made.
After working on many medical malpractice cases throughout the years, our personal injury attorneys understand that insurance companies can also influence a doctor’s decision on whether or not error will be admitted and an apology made for failure to properly treat a patient. An argument may be made that admitting liability will present negative consequences for the doctor a future personal injury claim. Often times, clients simply want to understand “what happened” in their own case, or the case of a loved-one. Whether medical malpractice, or wrongful death, sometimes the “apology” is one of the most critical parts of process and recovery for the individuals we work with.