How Surgeons Make A Bad Situation Worse…


By NOT saying the words “I am sorry” to their patients when they make a mistake.

You might ask why they would not say they are sorry.

There are a couple of reasons really.

First surgeons are some of the smartest people in the world. Most of them know it.

As a result of that, it is more difficult for them to admit that they made a mistake that it is for the rest of us.

Second, they might be afraid of the legal ramifications of admitting they made a mistake.

Recently though there have been laws passed which allow a Doctor to say she is sorry without the admission being used against her.

Third they might really believe that the mistake was not their fault and their is nothing to be sorry for.

But whatever the reason Pittsburgh wrongful death, medical malpractice, slip and fall, product liability and criminal defense attorney Bernie Tully can tell you that the failure of the surgeon to say he is sorry usually leads a patient to visit an attorney like myself.

Pittsburgh wrongful death, Medical malpractice, product liability and criminal defense attorney Bernie Tully didn’t have too many rules for my children growing up. But one rule we did have was this:

When you mess up, You fess up.

Admit you made the mistake and say you are sorry.

If surgeons followed this rule they would get sued a lot less.

Check out the article below from the Legal Intelligencer:

“Last May, surgeons at Yale New Haven Hospital removed the wrong body part from Deborah Craven. Now she’s suing — but, her lawyer says, not because of the mistake.

He says she’s suing in large part because she says she never heard these two words: “I’m sorry.”

“No one apologized. And they never explained to her how the mistake was made.”

The basic human desire to hear “I’m sorry” and an explanation of what went wrong — whether in the operating room or elsewhere — is behind a movement to encourage hospitals and doctors to move away from the traditional “deny and defend” approach, to “acknowledge and apologize.”

“I’m sorry” laws in 36 states say apologies cannot be used against medical professionals in court.


When people feel listened to, advocates say, they’re more likely to negotiate a settlement and less likely to file a suit that could result in a large malpractice award from a jury.

Craven’s lawsuit could end up being particularly costly for Yale from both a financial and public relations perspective, because the error is clear — Yale has publicly admitted to it.

In addition, Craven says a doctor lied to her to hide the mistake.

Yale could have saved money if it had done two things: made a full apology to Craven, including an honest explanation of how the error occurred, and if it had abided by her request that the doctor involved in the alleged cover-up be kept out of the operating room during a second surgery.

If Yale had done those two things, he said, his client would never have sued.


Bernie the Attorney.