What Happens When Doctors Apologize

doctorOur latest New York Times Q&A in Dealbook as part of our Apology Project:

Doctors don’t traditionally apologize for medical errors; in fact, they usually don’t even disclose them. That is why I have long been interested in how the University of Michigan Health Systems has bucked tradition with its Michigan Model, a collaborative and transparent approach to patient safety and medical mistakes.

Much of the attention focused on the Michigan Model has centered on the fact that doctors’ apologies have lowered lawsuits and payouts, in contrast to the conventional wisdom that apologizing increases the risk of litigation. University of Michigan Health Systems has certainly dislodged its doctors from the conventional approach to “defend and deny” mistakes. But I am more interested in the transformative waves that have been unleashed throughout its wider ecosystem because of its commitment to the values of transparency and truth — defending themselves if they do their job and authentically apologizing when they do not.

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