Apology Letter To Patient
Writing an apology letter to a patient is quite common. Healthcare professionals are human and like the rest of us, spend most of their time at work, so it's only inevitably that mistakes of some kind will be made from time to time, and that the need to say sorry for them will arise.
Whether the infraction was beyond your control or clearly your fault, apologizing to a patient shows that mistakes are made everywhere and that the healthcare industry is no exception.
Obviously, some infractions are more serious than others, especially when it comes to healthcare where certain errors can have serious consequences or even result in a fatality, so for any medical mistakes getting legal advice prior to writing a letter or apologizing is imperitave and necessary, even though many States support I'm Sorry Legislation which we discuss in our article on Medical Apologies.
Having said that, the guidance we provide below in our sample apology letter for patients are for more common situations in running a practice and where mea culpas are warranted and make good business sense.
It is appropriate to use it as a framework for crafting your own letter in cases of a clerical mistake, a long wait, poor service, staff acting unprofessionally, and similar situations where a sincere and proper apology is an important step towards making things right.
The table below provides a sample apology directed at a patient, for such a situation, along with a series of notes to help you tailor your letter appropriately.
By including a breakdown of each ingredient (through our notes) that should be included in an effective apology letter to a patient, you will be able to modify it as appropriate.
Use the 'Notes' as a guide, while writing your own letter and replace the specifics with your own situation. The order of ingredients and statements is not important so write your letter in the manner that feels most comfortable for you. What is important however is that you include all of the ingredients (as appropriate) and that your patient understands that the practice sincerely regrets what happened, took responsibility and apologized, and finally that it won't happen again.
Consider your apology letter format and how it can play a role in how effective your letter can be.
And again, for any medical errors and mistakes always consult an attorney before admitting any wrongdoing or taking responsibility, and learn about the apology laws within the medical field and "I'm Sorry" legislation that may be available to you.