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Making Disclosure A Reality For Healthcare Organizations 

Doctor's Family Receives Zero Empathy, Cover-up Following Baby's Death

Dr. Gregory Welch shared a heartbreaking personal story of zero empathy and cover-up following the death of his niece's newborn son in the delivery room.  

Baby Isaac was born via C-section, but, according to Dr. Welch, a neonatologist, the endotracheal tube was not properly placed and the child died despite being surrounded by numerous well-trained professionals. Dr. Welch, who was in the delivery room, basically describes a failure to rescue, compounded by no one in the hospital knowing what to say or do, except to utter, "We don't know what happened." 

Ironically, Dr. Welch had been offered a job in this very hospital a couple years prior -- so, he knew the staff and key players in the organization.

Dr. Welch had to assure his niece, who is a veterinarian, there is nothing wrong with her and it was a medical error for peace of mind regarding future children -- but why didn't the doctors, nurses, and hospital deliver that important message?   Answer: They were more concerned about themselves.  Or as Dr. Welch wrote, "I travel all over the country and I see lots of different hospitals. Sadly, the majority of them still function this way when things go wrong. I've served on risk-management committees, and I've seen this kind of behavior." 

Dr. Welch described in his article numerous post-event interactions with the hospital and doctors where nobody could apologize, and, at best, sheepishly explain how in the future they double-check to make the tube is placed correctly.  Dr. Welch persisted, suggesting this event could be a learning moment for everyone in the hospital, only to get a snotty response from risk management instructing him to leave the hospital and their doctors alone. 

Amazing.  Absolutely amazing.

To me, this is not only a case of zero disclosure training and zero support for 2nd victims, it is also a story of how the most vicious cover-ups often involved the family members of medical professionals.  Sure, blow a little smoke and snow the un-educated patients/families with a bunch of Latin terms, but, a doctor --- OMG! -- he knows we're full of crap!   No foolin' that guy.  In my travels, I have heard and seen stories where doctors who experience medical errors via their families are literally run out of town.  It's sickening.

This tale is another reminder of how much work we still have to do.  We have made tremendous strides with disclosure and apology, but we have a ways to go before every patient, every family (including those of medical professionals) is treated with integrity, transparency, and accountability.   Again, here is Dr. Welch's article.

If you don't want your hospital or nursing home to behave in this  manner, perhaps it's time to invest in disclosure training?  Sorry Works! can help...just e-mail or call 618-559-8168.


- Doug

Doug Wojcieszak, Founder, Sorry Works!


Doug Wojcieszak