Link to Playback for Free Webinar from Sorry Works-Sullivan Group

webinarOn January 28th, Sorry Works! and The Sullivan Group held a free webinar for healthcare, insurance, and legal professionals. This webinar covered how we teach disclosure and empathy to front-line healthcare professionals. We had a great audience, and want to give everyone else a chance to hear the message from this free webinar. To view/listen to the webinar, click on this link and/or this link.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call 618-559-8168 or e-mail


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Medscape Survey: Docs Don’t Think “Sorry” Will Stop Lawsuits?

medscapeMedscape recently published a survey of physicians — mostly oncologists — concerning litigation. The survey asked numerous questions about lawsuits, litigation exposure, plaintiff’s lawyers, etc.

Here is what Medscape said about their survey: “Medscape surveyed nearly 4000 physicians, including oncologists, to find out whether and why they were sued for malpractice; how any lawsuit affected their careers and patient-care decisions; and what these doctors suggest to avoid or reduce the number of lawsuits. The report also addresses long-term effects–emotional and financial–of malpractice suits on oncologists. Note that numbers in charts are rounded in this report, and so sums described in the text may not be consistent.”

The results? Well, you can read the result here. Three slides stuck out at me….when asked the best ways to prevent lawsuits (slide 9), 77% said medical screening panels, 57% caps on damages (surprise!), 45% health courts, and 37% no contingency fees for personal injury lawyers. Hmm….all those years of tort reform and blaming patients, families, and lawyers continues to pay dividends!

Yet, slide 7 says 70%+ of physicians surveyed felt their hospital was doing nothing or not enough to prevent lawsuits.

However, slide 24 shows 80% to 90% of physicians believe “sorry” would not prevent a lawsuit.

One of the criticisms I have heard about disclosure is that not enough docs and nurses are accepting the idea, there is not enough uptake among medical staff, clinicians don’t believe apology will work, etc. When I read the slide about 80 to 90 percent of physicians not believing sorry will have any impact on lawsuits my reaction was 80 to 90 percent of physicians — and nurses — have not been trained on disclosure and apology! Clinicians simply don’t understand the concept, including how and why it works.  I personally know many clinicians still don’t understand that apology and disclosure programs can resolve cases involving serious financial and emotional harm without litigation.

If Medscape had done their job, they would have asked a follow up question: Have you received disclosure and apology training?

Question: Do we really expect clinicians to learn about disclosure through osmosis? It will just happen? Maybe docs will read a paper or two, hear some idle chatter in the doctor’s longue, and, wallah, become converts?! These people have to be trained….they weren’t trained in medical or nursing school, most have not received CME/CEU training on the concept, and instead, they have been bombarded with drivel about don’t say sorry, abandon the family post-event, lawyers are evil, and we need tort reform.

Sorry, folks…but it’s gonna take some work. The good news is the payoff/ROI is there as far as litigation reduction, quality improvements, staff retention etc, if you work the process. When I do Grand Rounds seminars for physicians and nurses, it’s like an awakening for the audience. “Where was this 20 years ago?” and “Why didn’t I learn this in medical or nursing school?” are the questions/statements I hear.

To help train front-line clinicians, we have literally sold thousands of copies of the Little Book of Empathy. It’s a quick read for even the busiest doc or nurse, and it will give them the baseline education they need for disclosure and apology. The price starts at just $9.99 per copy, and goes down from there depending on volume. To order the Little Book of Empathy, click here.

We also have the Sorry Works! Tool Kit which is great for risk, claims, legal, and c-suite….the Tool Kit, which now includes the Disclosure Documentary, will help you design a program to train your people and make disclosure part of your culture. To order the Tool Kit, click here.

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Florida Premiere of Disclosure Documentary — February 11th

WCF2489_FullDisclosure_Invite-1We are excited to announce the Florida Premiere of the Disclosure Documentary will be held the evening of Thursday, February 11th in Lakeland, Florida. Lawrence and Steve Kraman along with Sorry Works! Founder Doug Wojcieszak will be at the premiere. The hosts for the premiere are the Watson Clinic Foundation and the Winter Haven Hospital Foundation. The sponsors for the event are the Watson Clinic; Lanier Upshaw; Rissman, Barrett, Hurt, Donahue, & McClain; and Central Florida Doctor. This premiere is open to healthcare, insurance, and risk management professionals, and we are hoping for a very large audience. Thank you to our hosts and sponsors! WCF2489_FullDisclosure_Invite-2

We are sharing this information for three reasons: 1

) We want our friends around Lakeland, Florida (which is near Tampa and Orlando) to join us for the premiere. Please let your colleagues and friends in this area know about the viewing, and please forward this information to them. We want a full theatre the evening of February 11th….help us spread the word! If you or a colleague wish to attend, you can simply respond to this e-mail to RSVP.

2) We want other organizations around the country to consider hosting a premiere/showing of the Disclosure Documentary. A large viewing of the film will invigorate your disclosure and patient safety efforts….it will create a lot of buzz within your organization. Consider the following quote about the Disclosure Documentary from patient safety champion Dr. Lucian Leape: “I think it’s exceptionally well done. You have developed the story and inter-weaved the comments in a credible and easy to follow way. I think lay persons and professionals alike will find this compelling and easy to understand. It is by far the most balanced presentation I have ever seen/heard on malpractice, human error, and disclosure and apology,” said Dr. Lucian Leape

3) We want you to purchase your own copy of the Disclosure Documentary for just $29.99 per copy. To order your copy, click on this link.

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Dr. Lucian Leape Praises Disclosure Documentary

leapeNationally renowned patient safety expert Dr. Lucian Leape strongly supports the Disclosure Documentary produced by Lawrence and Steve Kraman and marketed by Sorry Works.

“I think it’s exceptionally well done. You have developed the story and inter-weaved the comments in a credible and easy to follow way. I think lay persons and professionals alike will find this compelling and easy to understand. It is by far the most balanced presentation I have ever seen/heard on malpractice, human error, and disclosure and apology,” said Dr. Lucian Leape

We appreciate Dr. Leape’s support. We are glad Dr. Leape likes the movie, and you will like it too.

At $29.99 per copy the Disclosure Documentary is affordable for any organization or individual. When you order the film, you will actually receive two copies: a Grand Rounds edition (45 minutes in length) and a theatrical version (1.5 hours).

The Disclosure Documentary is also available as part of the Sorry Works! Tool Kit. At $49.99 per unit, the Tool Kit includes the movie, the Sorry Works! Tool Kit Book, Sorry Works! Power Point presentation, the Little Book of Empathy, and Pocket Notes. It’s everything you need to launch and sustain a successful disclosure program.

Learn what Dr. Leape is talking about by ordering your copy of the Disclosure Documentary today.


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Free Webinar: “Saying Sorry” from Sorry Works! and Sullivan Group

webinarOn Thursday, January 28 at 2pm ET/11am PT, Sorry Works! and our partner The Sullivan Group will offer a free webinar entitled, “Saying Sorry: Empathy and Communication Strategies After an Adverse Event.”    Again, this is a free webinar… register simply respond to this e-mail with your contact information (e-mail, phone numbers, etc) and you and your colleagues will be signed up!   Please join us, and share this invitation with others.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call 618-559-8168 or e-mail

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Iowa Physicians, Trial Lawyers Back Disclosure

iowaI recently came across an article that reported the State of Iowa has joined Oregon and Massachusetts in passing a comprehensive disclosure law. These three states set themselves apart from the 36 other states with apology laws by going beyond simple immunity for empathy or apology and instead laying the ground work for the development of actual disclosure programs that help consumers and clinicians communicate and resolve differences post-event, including compensation for serious harm or death caused by malpractice. In exchange for confidentiality from the courts and also regulatory authorities (i.e, state medical board), the Iowa legislation spells out what a disclosure program should look like including the requirement that healthcare organizations allow attorneys to be involved in the process. Here’s the actual law. Both the medical establishment and trial lawyers in Iowa backed the law — wow!

Washington, Texas, Utah, and California have expressed interest in similar legislation.

This is a great development, and I am hopeful other states will follow. However, you don’t need for your state to pass such a law to develop a disclosure program. You don’t need any form of confidentiality…defense lawyers in states that pass confidentiality or immunity laws quickly discover that the disclosure process actually provides a lot of powerful evidence that should be shown to a jury (not hidden). Yes, legislative bodies can help and even hasten the implementation of disclosure, but the true beauty of disclosure is that no laws, rulings from the court, etc are necessary.

You can do it on your own.

The process of building a disclosure program starts with raising awareness among your staff, leadership, and other stakeholders (outside counsel, insurers, etc). A great way to raise awareness is by showing the Disclosure Documentary at your next Grand Rounds and other staff meetings. Copies of the movie are available for $29.99 per unit or as part of the Sorry Works! Tool Kit for $49.99. The Tool Kit includes everything you need to develop, launch, and sustain a disclosure program. Click on this link to order your copy today.


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Disclosure Documentary Now $29.99 Per Copy

flyerThe documentary, “Full Disclosure, The Search for Medical Error Transparency,” produced by Lawrence and Steve Kraman and marketed by Sorry Works! is now priced at $29.99 per copy. By ordering the documentary through the Sorry Works! website you can either pay with credit card or be invoiced — the choice is yours. At $29.99 per copy, this documentary is priced right for everyone and every organization. Plus you get both the 90-minute theatrical version and the 47-minute academic version. To order the film now, click on this link.

Quotes for bulk purchases to provide the film to your entire medical staff or all of your insureds can be obtained by e-mailing Please include 1. your name and the name of your organization; 2. your title/role and 3. your e-mail address. You can also call 618-559-8168 for additional information.

The documentary is also available as part of the Sorry Works! Tool Kit. Priced at $49.99 per unit, the Tool Kit includes both versions of the film, the Sorry Works! Tool Kit Book (which is the blue print for your disclosure program), the Little Book of Empathy, and Pocket Notes. The Tool Kit — including the documentary — is everything you need to start your disclosure program.

Again, to order the film by itself or as part of the Tool Kit, please click on this link.

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Patient Confronts Doctor Over Missed Cancer Diagnosis

finchYesterday I came across an article on Facebook about a female patient in her thirties confronting an orthopedic surgeon who missed a cancerous tumor in her knee. Long story short, the surgeon operated several times on a young woman who injured her knee in a hiking accident. Four surgeries later, the knee was still not improving, the surgeon released the patient, she found another surgeon who recommended knee replacement, and, surprisingly, during the knee replacement surgery found the rare, cancerous tumor. By the time the cancer was diagnosed it had spread to the patient’s spine, liver, kidneys, and lung, and she has been battling the cancer now for over three years.

The patient — Elisabeth Finch — is a little different than the “average” patient. You see, Ms. Finch is a writer for the popular medical soap opera “Grey’s Anatomy.” And what Ms. Finch did with this situation is also not “average” for most patients and families confronted with a similar situation: She made an appointment with the surgeon who missed the cancer.

What she got from the original surgeon, unfortunately, was not so great: legal mumbo jumbo about sign this paperwork before we talk so I know you are not suing me, and then not much empathy. As Ms. Finch describes the encounter in the article, the meeting with the surgeon was a major let down.

I think this is a powerful article to share with clinicians. Great teaching tool. 

We want patients and families to come back post-event….we want them calling, e-mailing, writing a letter, showing up in the exam room, etc. Doctors have traditionally been scared of these encounters, but this is the best thing that can happen with an angry patient full of questions. I always challenge my physician audiences by telling them they should want to maintain relationships/communication with consumers post-event lest their upset patients find new friends: lawyer, regulator, member of the media, etc.

However, many patients and families are not Elisabeth Finch who reads medical journals, talks to physicians and nurses on a daily basis for her job, etc. Not many folks would know to do what she did…so we have to tell them! For several years we have offered the Patient/Family Education document on the Sorry Works! website and have encouraged folks to download it, use it, change it to fit their needs, etc. This document is literally a message to patients and families: Come back to me if you are not happy….the door is always open. Moreover, part of developing a disclosure program is sending a loud message to your patient population and outside world:  “We want to hear from you anytime you are unhappy. We are just a phone call away, and the door is always open.”

However, when patients and families do walk back through that door, angry, upset, and full of questions, the doctor needs to be handle the conversation in an empathetic and intelligent fashion without prematurely admitting fault. Or hiding behind a legal document!  To be totally candid, Ms. Finch’s case may not be malpractice…..this was a rare form of cancer (for a woman in her thirties) and would a reasonably competent medical professional, operating on knee damaged in a hiking accident, be expected to catch this cancer, or not??  I dunno. But here’s what I know should happen:

First, a physician should listen to everything this woman has to say…listen to every frustration, every question, and every tear. Show you are really listening with good body language in a quiet environment — make the patient feel heard. Be respectful. Then, when the time is right, say something like the following:

“Ms. Finch….I am very sorry this happened to you. I feel terrible for you. You have questions, and so do I.  I want to understand how this happened…I want to take a step back and review the entire situation, and get some outside experts to look at what happened too. I am simply shocked and upset at what has happened to you, and, again, I am sorry for everything you have been through. At some point soon, I also want to sit down and review everything with you…I want to interview you and get your recollections and feelings about the care you received from me. I want to re-connect with you next Tuesday to update you on my progress. Is there anything I can do for you right now?”

And you know what? The patient or family may think you are full of crap. Not believe a word you say. The snow job is coming, etc. All you can do is live your words, follow through, keep your promises, and hope to earn back the trust.   And document everything. 

Start by calling leadership or risk to get help with the review. Make the patient/family part of the review process, and stay in touch with the patient or family throughout the review process. Don’t let months or even weeks pass without touching base….stay in touch!  We recommend touching base at least once per week (possibly more).  Don’t ever let the patient/family feel abandoned.  Re-build that relationship!


If the review shows the situation was truly malpractice, then the surgeon and his hospital/malpractice carrier should work to address the financial and emotional needs of the patient (while also working to bring closure for the surgeon). If there was no malpractice, the results of the review should be communicated in an empathetic and credible fashion, at worst, people will agree to disagree.

But to do this all of this, we first have to train clinicians about post-event communication, and we also have to send the message to patients and families that the door is always open. This is what a good disclosure program does.

To help your staff understand how to communicate post-event, remember to schedule a Sorry Works! presentation for 2016. Call 618-559-8168 or e-mail

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2016 Resolution: Disclosure Presentations for Front-Line Staff

micOver the last 10 years, I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to over 30,000 healthcare, insurance, and legal professionals in hospitals and long-term care facilities across the United States. If I haven’t spoken at your facility, I hope you can put me and Sorry Works! on your New Year’s Resolution list.  

Here’s how the deal works…

I am often contacted by risk managers, CMOs and CNOs, CEOs or General Counsel.  These folks often tell me how litigation and patient safety are big concerns, and they know that their front-line staff don’t understand what to say or do post-event because they haven’t been trained.  Patients and families are not receiving empathy and communication post-event, staff are not receiving closure, healing, and learning post-event, and leadership doesn’t learn about events in a timely fashion.  Further conversation usually reveals that the leadership itself struggles to resolve events in an ethical and expedited fashion, especially if a case is “gray” or not clear cut.  Outside legal counsel and claims professionals can gum up the works, the process goes too slow for all sides, tempers flare, and too often dissolves into an angry fight over money.   In short, there is no disclosure program.

I tell the risk manager or CMO that for $2,000 + travel expenses, I will spend the entire day with their organization.  Give as many talks and have as many meetings as they would like.  I generally do five to six CME-accredited presentations for-front-line staff in a day, and one or two meetings with leadership.  During the staff presentations, I start with a true story about a routine test that went tragically wrong and I ask the staff to disclose to me….most can’t.  It’s a real struggle for them.  From that point forward, I teach staff how to empathize and stay connected with patients and families post-event without prematurely admitting fault.  I provide lots of script and stories on empathy and post-event communication…I show them how to do it. 

During my meetings with leadership, we talk about how to resolve cases…how to meet the emotional and financial needs of not only patients and families, but also staff.   We review their HR policies to make sure staff are supported post-event (as opposed to shamed, blamed, and disciplined).  We also discuss their disclosure policy, and how to develop an actual disclosure program.   Finally, I tell leadership that many staff members who heard my talks will be interested to help with the development of the disclosure program.

When I finish a day at a hospital or long-term care facility, I leave behind group of motivated individuals who have a chance to start a disclosure program.   If you want this for your organization in 2016, call me at 618-559-8168 or e-mail  

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A Christmas Eve Sermon (if I was giving it)

Christmas treeOne of the best parts of my job with Sorry Works! is presenting and teaching to live audiences….I always treasure the chance to stand in front of a room full of physicians, nurses, other front-line staff, medical and nursing students, etc. These disclosure talks always generate buzz from audiences, both collectively and individually. I especially love it when individual clinicians walk up afterwards — sometimes with tears in their eyes — to share their own stories of medical errors.

So, I enjoy speaking and teaching. It never grows old, and I am truly thankful every time I’m given the opportunity.

Over the years I’ve mentioned to many friends that when my kids leave the house in 10 years or so, that I might consider a second career either as a Lutheran pastor or a lawyer. I believe both professions help people, and I am drawn to how these careers use written and spoken words to change the world.

Who knows if I will ever do it (become a pastor or lawyer), but I already have a Christmas Eve sermon in the can that I want to share today as my Christmas gift to you:


“Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ….Amen.

As kids unwrap presents this Christmas, the adults in their lives will try to get them to do two things: Read the card, and say “Thank you.”

Well, cards are only interesting if cash or a check is stuffed inside, and even then the kids won’t actually read the card, unless Mom demands, “Well, what does the card say?!,” to which the child will quickly mumble through the Hallmark greeting before moving on to the nicely wrapped present.

Ah, the presents….what took Santa, Mom, or Grandma hours of wrapping can be reduced to a pile of confetti by little hands in mere seconds. And amid flying paper and new toys being proudly held high, adults will remind excited tikes to say, “Thank you” to Santa, Grandma, Auntie So and So, or whomever was responsible for providing the noisy, plastic gizmos. Most kids will utter the words — “Thank you” — but we know Christmas “Thank yous” are about as genuine as the “sorrys” that are forced out of children following bad behavior. Moreover, after the last present has been opened many kiddos will whine about the toys they didn’t get. “Why didn’t I get such and such? It was on MY LIST” will be the refrain from upset, quivering little voices. To which parents and Grandparents, sensing Christmas drama, will remind little Johnny or Suzie that they can use the money from their cards — which they didn’t read in the first place — to purchase their unfilled Christmas wishes.

You know, we adults aren’t much different! We often bypass or miss the important messages while digging for the bucks, we are not truly thankful for the gifts in our lives, and we are often yearning for things we don’t have (and don’t really need).

Tonight we can begin to fix this situation. We gather this Holy Night in the House of God to not only celebrate the birth of Christ, but also to say “Thank you!” to God for providing us with the greatest gift of all….his only Son, Jesus Christ. We say “Thank you!” for Jesus coming to live among us, to love us, to show how to love one another, and to ultimately die for our sins. In a few short months when the flowers are blooming (hopefully!), we will gather again to remember Christ’s death, and say “Thank you!” for His sacrifice on the cross.

We don’t, however, have to wait for Christmas and Easter to say “Thank you!” to God. In fact, we can live Christmas and Easter each and every day by saying “Thank you” to God.

I have a devotional reader that I try to read (not always successfully) on a daily basis, and a few days ago the text featured Psalm 113, vv 2-3: “Blessed be the name of the Lord….from the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised.” Now, as most devotionals do, the author spends a paragraph or two expounding on the Bible verse of the day…my devotional told the story of how a youth pastor encouraged teenagers on a retreat to develop a gratitude journal…each morning the teenagers were asked to write 10 things they were thankful for in the journal, and repeat the process each evening. According to my devotional, the act of being aggressively thankful can replace feelings of worry, anxiety, self-criticism, greed, and so forth.

I believe it, and you should too.

Saying “Thank you” to God every day for our abundance literally changes your frame of mind. It makes you appreciate what you have, understand how loved and treasured you are, and will help you quit worrying about stuff you don’t have (and don’t really need). Ultimately, showing thanks to God every day literally changes your value system, and helps you focus on what’s important.

Start with your life….”Thank you for another day, Lord.” The older (and more fragile) we get, the more we realize every day is truly a gift. So, say “Thank you!” to God.

Every morning and evening give thanks to God for your family and friends, your talents, your possessions, your work, and Christ Himself. Just like those teenagers on retreat, you will quickly learn there is a never-ending list of things to be appreciative for, and the repeated process of giving thanks will change your attitude and outlook on this life.

You know, think about our society, our hurting world….how many people suffer from anxiety, worry, and self-doubt? How many souls unmercifully criticize themselves and those around them? And how many folks get into trouble — sometimes serious trouble — because of greed and selfishness? There is so much hurt in the world, but all of that hurt, pain, and suffering can be combatted with two little words: “Thank you.”

My friends, celebrate Christmas and Easter every day by saying “Thank you” to God for everything in your lives. Say “Thank you” when you awake, thank you again in the evening, and during the quiet times of your hectic days utter quick prayers of thanks for the multitude of gifts we enjoy. It’s a very simple thing to do but the impact on your life, and the lives around you, will be profound. You just have to believe.

Merry Christmas. May the Peace of the Lord be with you. Amen.”


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to my readers….I truly appreciate your support through the years, and wish you and your family a blessed holiday season. May the Peace of the Lord be with you.

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