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Making Disclosure A Reality For Healthcare Organizations 

IDEA FROM ROAD: Review, not Investigate

IDEA FROM ROAD: Review, not Investigate One of the great things about teaching Sorry Works! to healthcare, insurance, and legal professionals is that often I learn as much as the audience.  It's a two way street!  And then I turn around and share this learning with you, our Sorry Works! community.  Great lesson learned last week I want to share today, and it represents a change for Sorry Works!

For several years, we have stated that clinicians should say some version of the following post-event:

"Mrs. Jones, the surgery is over, but I'm sorry to tell you your Mom is in the ICU.  We are going to do a full investigation to learn how this happened…."

We have coached/advised to say investigate for years because it conveys that you are taking the situation in a serious manner, that you are being pro-active, etc...because for far too long providers have said silly, off-putting things like "We'll look into it," which most patients/families interpret as a blow-off or white wash comments.  Those type of comments can literally drive people to plaintiffs lawyers.   We want to show with our word choices (and body language!) we are for real and want to stay connected with patients and families post-event.  However, over the years, some folks have suggested that "investigate" might be a little too strong....might imply we've done wrong in every case, and might scare the staff into silence.

I now agree.

We are now recommending a better word choice suggested by a Midwest long-term care provider: "review." Instead of saying investigate, say review:

"Mrs. Jones, the surgery is over, but I'm sorry to tell you your Mom is in the ICU.  We are going to do a full review to learn how this happened."

The word "review" still implies we are taking the situation seriously, but doing so in an even-handed fashion that is fair to all sides and shouldn’t scare staff.

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DougWojcieszak Founder, Sorry Works!