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Making Disclosure A Reality For Healthcare Organizations 

Question from Road: More than Money?

October 12, 2011Doug Wojcieszak, Founder & Spokesperson Contact phone/e-mail address: 618-559-8168; doug@sorryworks.net

QUESTION FROM ROAD: MORE THAN MONEY?

Recently received this insightful question from the road:

"Is there any way to include more than money - or stuff other than money - in the resolution to these medical error cases? Sometimes money seems so cold and distant, and much better resolutions should be crafted that could be more meaningful and provide better closure for all parties.....but it always comes back to the dollars in these cases! How do we get around this?"

Answer: Leadership!

It takes leadership from acute and long-term care health professionals post-event to make med-mal more than about the dollars. Problem is for far too long when adverse events happen, healthcare professionals have ceded the leadership mantle in patient/family relationships to the attorneys. The lawyers take over, do all the talking, and what is the patient/family left to fight over? Money! "And if we're going to fight over money, let's get every penny, because I'm furious at the way that nursing home treated my Mother and family."

Another way of looking at it: Healthcare professionals along with insurers have been so scared about the bucks post-event, that you've literally made it a self-fulfilling prophecy! It's the only thing we are allowed to fight about!

The way to break this awful cycle is with leadership...continue to be leaders in the healthcare of your patients and their families post-event. Instead of running away, stay in the relationship with your patient/family. Stay on the same side of the table as your patients and families. It's OK to get help from attorneys, but, in most instances, NOT OK to let them take over. Even if we are talking about a major error with big-time injuries or death, you can still stay involved, and, no it doesn't mean we sit back and wait to get sued.

And, yes, it's tough...but by remaining engaged, always using empathy and good customer service and, when appropriate, apology, you will diminish the anger felt by patients/families and can learn about the creative solutions patients/families may want...some of which may have nothing to do with money! And this is a big part of the reason disclosure programs are so important...they give you the framework + backing, including backing to pro-actively and creatively resolve disputes and cases. Now, I am not going to kid you...if you kill or cripple the bread winner of the family, you will be talking about money...money for mortgage payments, college education funds, monthly family budgets, etc... but even in these circumstances you can craft or suggest creative solutions. In addition to the money, look for ways to memorialize the patient and/or involve the patient/family in your patient safety efforts as well as educate and awaken your staff. Lots of possibilities, but, it all begins with leadership!

Healthcare professionals need to be leaders post-event, and that's why we created Sorry Works! To help you be a leader. You CAN'T reasonably expect a patient/family to come to you post-event and say if you do this, this, and this, then I won't be angry at you anymore and I won't sue you for $10 million bucks! Doesn't work that way! Fact is many patients and families truly have no idea what they need post-event, except when they smell a cover up they know to seek revenge....and the only way patients and families can seek revenge in our civil society is by demanding money.

To learn more all about Sorry Works!, remember our Sorry Works! webinar on November 15th. This is the classic Sorry Works! talk given by Sorry Works! Founder Doug Wojcieszak. Here is the registration link: http://www.sorryworks.net/pdf/November-2011-Flyer.pdf .

Sincerely,

- Doug

Doug Wojcieszak, Founder Sorry Works! PO Box 531 Glen Carbon, IL 62034 618-559-8168 (direct dial)

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