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letters | a place for apologies in medicine

Encouraging trust, transparency, and fair redress

Gabriel H. Teninbaum’s commentary on our medical liability initiative of disclosure, apology, and offer misses several key points of the program (“So sorry: The state’s new medical apology program is about money, not regret,” Op-ed, May 1). The approach of disclosure, apology, and settlement offer encourages transparency and trust, and gives patients who have been harmed by avoidable events what they tell us they want: full disclosure of the event, assurances that attempts will be made to prevent similar injuries to others, an appropriate apology, and an offer of fair and timely compensation.

We agree that patients who have been harmed by unacceptable standards of care should have redress and appropriate compensation and be encouraged to have legal representation and have their legal rights preserved. Our initiative’s approach, proven in other venues, has great potential to enhance reporting of medical errors, bring faster resolution to cases, improve patient safety, and reduce costly defensive medicine. We believe it is a common-sense approach to fixing a system badly in need of repair.

Dr. Alan Woodward


Dr. Kenneth Sands


Woodward, a former president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, and Sands, senior vice president for health care quality at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, are leading the medical liability reform of disclosure, apology, and offer in Massachusetts.

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