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Sorry Works! Blog

Making Disclosure A Reality For Healthcare Organizations 

2016 Resolution: Disclosure Presentations for Front-Line Staff

micOver the last 10 years, I've had the pleasure of speaking to over 30,000 healthcare, insurance, and legal professionals in hospitals and long-term care facilities across the United States. If I haven't spoken at your facility, I hope you can put me and Sorry Works! on your New Year's Resolution list.   Here's how the deal works...

I am often contacted by risk managers, CMOs and CNOs, CEOs or General Counsel.  These folks often tell me how litigation and patient safety are big concerns, and they know that their front-line staff don't understand what to say or do post-event because they haven't been trained.  Patients and families are not receiving empathy and communication post-event, staff are not receiving closure, healing, and learning post-event, and leadership doesn't learn about events in a timely fashion.  Further conversation usually reveals that the leadership itself struggles to resolve events in an ethical and expedited fashion, especially if a case is "gray" or not clear cut.  Outside legal counsel and claims professionals can gum up the works, the process goes too slow for all sides, tempers flare, and too often dissolves into an angry fight over money.   In short, there is no disclosure program.

I tell the risk manager or CMO that for $2,000 + travel expenses, I will spend the entire day with their organization.  Give as many talks and have as many meetings as they would like.  I generally do five to six CME-accredited presentations for-front-line staff in a day, and one or two meetings with leadership.  During the staff presentations, I start with a true story about a routine test that went tragically wrong and I ask the staff to disclose to me....most can't.  It's a real struggle for them.  From that point forward, I teach staff how to empathize and stay connected with patients and families post-event without prematurely admitting fault.  I provide lots of script and stories on empathy and post-event communication...I show them how to do it. 

During my meetings with leadership, we talk about how to resolve cases...how to meet the emotional and financial needs of not only patients and families, but also staff.   We review their HR policies to make sure staff are supported post-event (as opposed to shamed, blamed, and disciplined).  We also discuss their disclosure policy, and how to develop an actual disclosure program.   Finally, I tell leadership that many staff members who heard my talks will be interested to help with the development of the disclosure program.

When I finish a day at a hospital or long-term care facility, I leave behind group of motivated individuals who have a chance to start a disclosure program.   If you want this for your organization in 2016, call me at 618-559-8168 or e-mail doug@sorryworks.net.  

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