Letter from Patient Advocates about Sorry Works!

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					May 7, 2012
An Open Letter from Patient Safety Advocates
RE: “Sorry Works!” Proposal “Reforming the National Practitioner Data Bank and
State Medical Boards”

As patient safety advocates working to prevent medical harm and to ensure that
consumers have the information they need to obtain the safest health care possible, we
oppose a proposal by “Sorry Works!” purported to “reform” the National Practitioner
Data Bank (NPDB) and state medical licensing boards.

The proposal would promote apologies by physicians to the victims of their malpractice
in exchange for keeping their malpractice record with the NPDB secret. Further, in most
cases, the proposal would prohibit state licensing boards from imposing disciplinary
action based on a physician making the apology.

The “Sorry Works!” campaign appears to be designed primarily to serve the interests of
physicians rather than patients who have been harmed. Although it would likely lead to
more apologies to injured patients, it would leave the public even less well protected
from medical malpractice than is the case today. It would hide the records of malpractice
settlements from entities charged with a responsibility to review physicians’ backgrounds
for the purpose of licensing, employment or hospital privileges.

Estimates of malpractice deaths in the U.S. range from 100,000 to over 200,000 per year.
Three recent studies found that at least one in four hospital patients are harmed – almost
nine million Americans each year. Yet in 2011 only 9,762 malpractice payments were
made for physicians. The real problem is not how to protect physicians from any legal
and professional consequences of their malpractice, as the “Sorry Works!” proposal
would do; the real problem is how to better protect the public from the current epidemic
of malpractice injuries and deaths.

Attached is our full analysis of this proposal. For further information, please contact Bob
Oshel at or Lisa McGiffert at

Robert E. Oshel, Ph.D.
Retired Associate Director for Research
and Disputes, National Practitioner Data         Rex Johnson and Yanling Yu, Ph. D
Bank                                             Washington Advocates for Patient
Silver Spring, Maryland                          Safety                           Seattle, WA
Kathy Day RN                           
Patient Safety Activist
Bangor, ME                                       Rosemary Gibson                               Arlington, VA

Christian John Lillis                    Ty and Carole Moss
Co-founder & Director                    Founders
The Peggy Lillis Memorial Foundation     Nile's Project MRSA
Fighting C. diff through       
education and advocacy                   carole@nilesproject
New York, NY             Michael Bennett
John T. James, PhD                       The Coalition For Patients' Rights
Patient Safety America, Houston, TX      Baltimore, Maryland
                                         Lori Nerbonne
Martha Deed, Ph.D.                       New Hampshire Patient Voices
Psychologist (retired)         
Patient Safety Advocate        
North Tonawanda, NY                       Roberta Mikles RN
Alicia Cole                    
Alliance for Safety Awareness for
Patients (ASAP)
Sherman Oaks, CA                         Kerry O'Connell                         Conifer, CO
Lisa McGiffert
Consumers Union Safe Patient Project     Al Levine                  Washington, D.C.     

Arthur Aaron Levin MPH                   Mary Ellen Mannix, MRPE
Director, Center for Medical Consumers   James's Project               Wayne, PA
Helen Haskell
Mothers Against Medical Error            Julia A. Hallisy, D.D.S., Inc.                  President, The Empowered Patient
Joleen Chambers                          San Francisco, CA
FiDA-Failed Implant Device Alliance
Dallas, TX                     

Linda Carswell
Katy, Texas                          Mary Brennan-Taylor              Patient Safety Advocate
                                     Univ. of Buffalo Patient Safety Research
Pat Mastors                          Center
Patient Advocate                     mbrennan-taylor@ywcaniagara
Founder/President, Pear Health LLC
East Greenwich, RI                   Jack French                Escondido, CA
Michele Monserratt-Ramos
Californians for Patients Rights     Lana Keeton
Torrance, CA                         President & Founder                 Truth in Medicine Incorporated
                                     Miami Beach, FL 33139
Jean Rexford               
CT Center for Patient Safety                  Holly S. Harris, M.S., CRC
                                     Interwork Institute Cntr for Distance
Dan Walter                           Learning
De Land, Fl                          San Diego State University
dan          San Diego CA


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