Traverse City Record-Eagle


March 17, 2014

Letters to the Editor: 03/17/2014

Frankness, acceptance work

The operating room occurrence at Munson resulting in a patient inadvertently burned by an instrument during a surgical procedure might have had a better outcome if, right away, the lead surgeon, personal family physician and hospital administration had met with the patient and family and offered an apology/explanation.

This incident appears to have been accidental; prompt, sincere explanations might have precluded further legal challenges.

Of course, a medical negligence complaint might have still been filed and damages awarded but this probability would have been diminished.

Further, the hospital would have avoided expensive, convoluted gyrations over seven years in attempts to avoid accepting responsibility. (The issue seems close to fitting legal definition of res ipsa loquitur, “The thing speaks for itself.”)

Certainly staff personnel sitting on peer review committees need legal protection from personal liability by keeping these procedures private. However, information being contested in court appears to be an “incident report” or “nurses notes” documents, which have a lower confidentiality level.

At any rate, frankness and acceptance of responsibility are, in my judgment, the best policies when medical misadventures occur.

Many attorneys will disagree (litigation being their “raison d’être), but in 40 years of medical practice it worked for me.

Richard Bingham

Traverse City

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