Monday, October 08, 2007

Apologies and Data Breaches

I just listened to an NPR piece - "Practice of Hospital Apologies Is Gaining Ground."

There has been quite a bit of research in the last few years that the differentiating factor between a doctor who gets sued for malpractice and one who does not is how much time they spend with their patient, and how humble they are.

The NPR piece details how at least one hospital now has a practice of apologizing to patients who have adverse outcomes, or where there was a missed diagnosis. It turns out that many patients sue not because of the mistake, but because of how they are treated. Being upfront and honest with the patient about the mistake, and apologizing, seems to have a positive impact.

Makes me wonder if there is a lesson in here for companies that have data breaches. Maybe getting out front of the issue like TD Ameritrade (not really out front given how long it was going on, but out from of the major press) will help them in the end with respect to how successful the class action suits are, etc.

I guess we'll just have to see.


Anonymous said...

Consider the converse.

"At HospitalCo, we take your health seriously, and use the latest technology to protect it.

Unfortunately, you recently contracted a secondary infection and suffered for days because our Autoclave was set to room temperature.

We contracted with GermTrace, LLC, who have assured us that your likelihood of suffering permanent injury is very small. Please accept this coupon good for a thirty dollar discount next time you are admitted to our hospital."

Andy Steingruebl said...

I don't think the NPR article (nor was I) suggesting that *all* you get is an apology. But in terms of favorable outcomes and compensation both parties tend to be happier with a mediated settlement, and or the hospital making an offer, rather than things resulting in litigation.

You don't get just an apology, we just avoid the burden and inefficiency of a lawsuit.