David Earl Johnson, LICSW

5 minute read

Remember the quote from the old Love Story movie, “Love is never having to say you’re sorry”? The unfortunate part is that apologies are critical to the survival of all relationships. Believe it or not, medical professionals have been trained to never say they are sorry, even if they made a serious error in treating their patients. The whole thing began with a belief that admitting culpability was the first step to a lost malpractice lawsuit. Heaven forbid would you tell a patient or family of an error when they weren’t already aware of it! That would invite a suit where none would have been! To the contrary, it’s a common experience for families to speculate about medical errors when a member suffers a surprising complication from medical treatment. And the result of family discussions often is exploring legal options. The drive for such painful discussions is often a feeling of betrayal and deceit by the medical professional. Now it seems the issue is coming full circle, insurance companies, anxious to prevent lawsuits are encouraging medical providers to say they’re sorry. It seems that it has resulted in fewer lawsuits! Much of the time, there is something uncommonly right about common sense. Why is it we pay so little attention? Insurance Journal

“Some of Harvard Medical School’s top teaching hospitals may add a lesson for their doctors: how to say sorry. A national specialist on patient safety, Dr. Lucian Leape, has led a group of physicians, patients, and hospital executives in drafting the policy for physicians to acknowledge and apologize for medical errors to their patients. The group has circulated a 50-page draft among hospital leaders, the Boston Sunday Globe reported. The policy, if adopted, would create a uniform response to some of medicine’s most difficult situations at Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Children’s Hospital Boston. The hospitals would join a growing number of U.S. medical centers and malpractice insurers that embrace medical disclosures and apologies to patients. “I’m trying to get all the Harvard hospitals to adopt the policy,” said Leape, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. “The time has come to be open with our patients.” He declined to discuss details, saying the policy has not been completed. [..]“Fifteen to 20 years ago coming through medical school and residency, we were implicitly, if not explicitly, told, ‘Don’t ever admit a mistake,’ because it will come back to haunt you if you get sued.”

David Earl Johnson, LICSW

4 minute read

This is a very interesting article for several reasons. First of all, it supports my point of view about what makes treatment effective. Second it shows how misleading even technically academically correct research can be. The complete research manuscript can be found here. Desire To Stop Drinking Could Be More Important Than Therapy The positive outcomes of therapy for alcoholism may have less to do with the therapy itself and more to do with participants’ determination to quit.

David Earl Johnson, LICSW

2 minute read

Did you know that almost all insurance companies require your therapist and your doctor to negotiate a mutually agreed upon treatment plan with you? I’d bet there are a few of you out there who will say it’s not happening that way. Counseling can easily go astray without an active discussion of your goals. Your counselor may have some good ideas, but if you don’t agree, you will not make progress and may drop out of treatment pre-maturely.