Thinking About Your Medical Error Disclosure Policy...
Does your organization (hospital, nursing home, insurer, etc) have a disclosure policy? If so, have you read or reviewed your policy recently? More importantly, have your physicians, nurses, and other clinical staff read your disclosure policy? How many of your staff even know a disclosure policy exists?! When I pose these questions to healthcare organizations, I usually get sheepish responses. When I ask docs and nurses about disclosure policies, they usually give me puzzled looks! It's OK. Many organizations hastily wrote disclosure policies with little fanfare 10 to 15 years ago after JCAHO mandated such policies. We didn't know much about disclosure back then, and most disclosure policies were written by lawyers (for the benefit of lawyers). Moreover, the majority of physicians and nurses have not read disclosure policies or even know they exist. Just as well, though, as most policies are full of confusing and contradictory legalize: "Apologize for a medical error but don't admit fault." Huh?
Many healthcare and insurance are in the process of implementing disclosure programs, and many more are ramping up or revising their disclosure efforts. This is a good time to review your disclosure policy and update it. To me, a good disclosure policy is literally your Constitution and Bill of Rights all rolled into one. Your policy is your ethics in writing. It should be easy to understand, and any physician or nurse should be able to read the policy and quickly understand what is expected of them post-event. In fact, as you train your people on disclosure you should be teaching back to your policy. During disclosure training sessions you can expect common questions from clinicians such as, "What is our disclosure policy?" and "Can I get a copy of the policy?" You better have a disclosure policy, and it better be good!
At Sorry Works!, we have helped several organizations revise or develop their disclosure policies. The Sorry Works! Tool Kit Book has an entire chapter on disclosure policies...to order simply click on this link. Sorry Works! also offers consulting services for the revision or development of disclosure policies...for more information simply call 618-559-8168 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
As you make your priorities for the Fall, put your disclosure policy at the top of the list!