Deny and Defend

We are all aware that our society is driven to lawsuits  but why is this?  I’m sure there are many theories out there but my theory is that the continual denial of any wrongdoing (by total mistake, ignorance or malice) and the inability to say “I’m sorry”, “you’re right, I made a mistake, how can we fix this?” or any acceptance of responsibility leads to anger and frustration on the part of the parties harmed which then leads them to the court – the last resort for some sense of reality check on what really happened.

What a waste of time, talent and money – money that could be used for good if only people (agencies) could accept responsibility and be accountable.

Working in Labor and Delivery for many, many years, knowing that at any moment a disaster could happen which would change the lives of the family, I saw every birth as a miracle – for many reasons.  Knowing that one moment in time a disaster could happen which was no fault of anyone but just happened in the birth process, I was amazed that any child came out alive (or mother for that matter.)  Yet, Obstetrics is one of the highest areas of litigation and also has some of the highest rates for malpractice insurance.  Yes, there is malpractice but not every thing that goes wrong is caused by malpractice or misjudgment on the part of the healthcare providers.  Things just happen.

In recent years I have been the involved in several situations in which I was told “you should sue” but I don’t want to sue just because I could.  I wrote letters to those involved and received apologies, acceptance of responsibility, strategies to improve and re-train the healthcare staff in appropriate practices and documentation.  That’s all I wanted – I just didn’t want others to experience the same things that we experienced when they could be fixed.  Why sue when people accept responsibility and make efforts to improve?

I am writing this post because I recently submitted an inquiry on the Washington State Auditor’s Citizen Hotline.  This past year the Washington State Auditor did a so-called audit on the Developmental Disabilities Administration.  This audit (DD Audit) was riddled with inaccurate and incomplete data and opinions yet was treated as “fact” in recent legislation.  It is shameful that this document was used in our legislative process for decision making.  Many of us attempted to point out the glaring errors in the DD Audit but apparently it is assumed the State Auditor has the facts and there is no need to question reports that are generated.  Interesting to note though is that our state paid over $400,000 for a local company which also subcontracted to an out-of-state entity, well known across the country, to be biased in assessing needed supports for our most vulnerable.

In submitting an online Citizen’s Hotline referral, I was hoping there may be some new insight into this issue and I may receive some sort of response which acknowledged the glaring errors.  I was so wrong.

I have attached the response letter that I received.  It is a great example of the “deny and defend” policy.  I now understood why people are driven to sue – I was more than angry – giving the Auditor an opportunity to accept responsibility and look at the errors and admit there were mistakes only lead to more denial.  The people in the auditor’s office cannot even see the facts or respond to questions that were asked.

I am more than disappointed with this – I am ashamed that we allow our government to treat us this way and am ashamed that those in our government cannot accept responsibility that they are given.

Deny and Defend policy hurts us all.  The medical field is learning this and is trying to change it’s ways.  By being honest and trying to promptly disclose medical errors and offering earnest apologies together with fair compensation, the medical community is hoping to restore integrity.  The hope is this will dilute the anger that is built up in those wronged by continually being told inaccurate and incomplete information which will in turn reduce lawsuits.

I would hope our government agencies take notice of this too.

Auditor response to citizen complaint




2 comments on “Deny and Defend

  1. ddexchanges says:

    Cheryl, The response letter you received strikes me as being considerably less than truthful, given that I called the SAO to task at the beginning of the audit for having hired a firm with known anti-RHC biases. I have a signed response letter from them which states clearly that the DDD Audit will not be addressing matters of RHC closure.

    If they had been monitoring the firm, assuming the written statement that RHC closure would not be addressed was a true intention of the auditor’s office, they would have have known and should have corrected the intense (bogus) case-building to support the audit’s ultimate ill supported conclusions.

    I think it comes down to this, paranoid as it may seem: Parents and guardians of people who need RHCs are fewer and less well funded than RHC opponents. We have not had the people to commit to becoming employed by the systems that are trying to dismantle the programs that our loved ones need. RHC opponents have brilliantly positioned themselves inside the bureaucracies that have influence with the SAO and other government agencies.

    They are the same people who manage to work the system to get higher or more benefits for their own family members than most other people, with similar needs and resources, who are not positioned within the bureaucracies.

    I am expressing this opinion, here, because I am hoping to inspire parents of RHC residents to try for paid positions in the related bureaucracies By now, many are so well infiltrated that gaining entry has proven difficult to impossible for known RHC proponents, but if people don’t try, for sure they won’t be hired.

    Thanks, Cheryl, for your relentless pursuit of integrity in a system that has a long way to go to qualify. Saskia


  2. Thank you, Saskia. Yes, I am very disheartened (really this is light terminology for my real feeling) with the bureaucratic process and legislation regarding the care for our most vulnerable. The heads are just getting deeper into the sand. When will it end?

    Prior to needing this level of care for my son, I had no idea how political it was. Being a healthcare provider and mother, I assumed (wrongly) that there would be no questions about needed supports and services. It was not until we were deeply in crisis that I learned how political this issue was and that it had nothing to to with the needs of the people.

    Not only are the needs of the people ignored but it’s also not about the true cost of care either. If the legislators were given honest information, I would hope they would see things in a more accurate view but how do we get the more accurate information to those who make decisions? They are so far mislead by those who believe in “false gods” that those of use who have accurate and extensive data on a continuum of care are seen at “heretics”.


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