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Sorry Works! Blog

Making Disclosure A Reality For Healthcare Organizations 

2nd Victim Label Angering Some Patients and Families?

Two weeks ago I published an e-newsletter about the need to infuse 2nd victim support into your disclosure program, and mentioned that I dedicated an entire chapter to this concept in the new Sorry Works! Tool Kit Book. Then, I got some pretty harsh blow back from patients and families. Many were outraged that the medical community would consider doctors and nurses to be "victims" of a medical error. One woman wrote -- in a nice way -- that she could consider clinicians to be "casualties" of an adverse event, but never a victim. Others were not so nice, or rational. I know words mean things, but I try not to get wrapped around the axle on word choices. For example, within disclosure, there is a push to give a new name to the movement: "CRP." The C stands for communication, the R for resolution, and P stands for...for....for....I can't remember what the P signifies. I recently listened to a webinar where an expert tried to explain the difference between CRP and disclosure, and I couldn't see any difference. CRP is just a marketing term to package disclosure in a different manner (and probably get more consulting gigs!).   I don't really care. 

OK, so we anger some consumers by labeling clinicians as "2nd victims." But, what is the real goal of disclosure? To provide transparency and healing for the maximum number of people. It's never been the goal of disclosure to make everyone happy. There are still plenty of defense lawyers, claims guys, and crusty old docs who don't like disclosure, but that doesn't stop us. Same deal with families who are offended with the 2nd victim label. Taking care of clinicians --- the 2nd victims -- post-event is necessary to make disclosure a reality.  We have to stop yelling at them and suspending or firing them, and, instead, address their emotional needs.  If we don't take care of the 2nd victims they may not able or willing to disclose to patients and families.

Moreover, in my 10+ years of doing this work, I have come to firmly believe that docs and nurses are truly victimized by deny and defend risk management strategies. Clinicians are involved in tragic, emotionally overwhelming adverse events, but then told to shut up and given no emotional support. Sounds like a victim to me.

Fall is right around the corner...to schedule Sorry Works! for Grand Rounds presentation please call 618-559-8168 or e-mail doug@sorryworks.net.

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