INSURER SAYS "NO" TO DISCLOSURE? SHARE THIS WITH MEDICAL STAFF!
Here's one to share with the medical staff -- please do forward this e-newsletter, and also paste up in the doctors' lounge. Share it!
A few weeks ago after a Sorry Works! presentation in Indiana, the president of a large anesthesia group came up and told me the following:
"Several of the docs in my group believe that our med-mal insurer wants them to say nothing post-event. Several of them have even told me that they have called the carrier and have been told to "Shut up!"post-event, when, in fact, I've spoken with our claims person directly about this issue and nothing could be further from the truth. Now, yes, the insurer doesn't want our docs freely admitting fault until a review has happened, but empathizing post-event and staying connected are encouraged. Unfortunately, some old-school docs believe they should never talk post-event, and while some other docs errantly believe that 'don't admit fault' means don't talk at all post-event."
Very important lessons here. Many docs are conditioned to believe insurers want them to say nothing – except to call the insurance company and then shut up! Others do hear 'don't admit fault’ and assume that means to halt all communication post-event and distance yourself from patient/family. Of course, docs are fearful of their insurance policies being cancelled post-event and being left personally exposed - which is really an urban legend dispelled last Fall by our friend John Banja.
At Sorry Works! we recommend the following: Call the insurance company! Get the risk and claims people on the phone. Learn exactly what the policy is - and get it in writing. You may be surprised....many carriers are adopting and moving towards disclosure. Now, the policy may not be perfect, but you can work with them to improve it. Also, get a copy of the Empathy booklet --- it's the perfect guide to staying connected post-event without prematurely admitting fault. Nothing in the booklet runs afoul of any insurance policies. Also, read and distribute Professor Banja's article.
If applicable, work to connect your insurer with your hospital(s). Get these folks talking and working together long before an event ever happens. Also, learn what the policy is not only for empathy post-event, but also how cases will be resolved if an error did cause harm. If the review shows a mistake, are we are going to move in a pro-active fashion to resolve the case? Are we going to apologize? Find out!
Finally, there are, unfortunately, a few insurers still in the dark ages....if they truly tell you to shut up completely post-event, time to shop for new insurance or approach the hospital about developing an RRG.