Bring Primary Care Docs in the Loop with Disclosure & Apology
Last week I was in Oklahoma speaking at a state-wide conference, and a primary care physician shared an interesting insight with me and the audience. This doctor said that when something goes wrong at a hospital, the patient or family may eventually come back to him looking for answers and information. However, the doctor continued by stating he is rarely notified about bad outcomes. Often, the doctor said, he is first hearing about the adverse event from his patient (or their family). Thankfully, the doctor further stated that he empathized with such families and always promised to make phone calls, review the situation, and report back to them. The doctor finished by sharing that in his experience many hospitals don't do a good job disclosing adverse events to anyone, primary care physicians included.
I think this Oklahoma physician made a very important point, and I don't think it's something many of us in the disclosure movement have thought about. Sure, we preach day and night about communicating with the patient and family as well as impacted staff. We get the risk manager and insurance company/RRG on the phone, and also talk with defense counsel and other important folks. Some institutions involve the hospital CEO or other high ranking brass very early on in the disclosure process (which is good, I think). But what about the PCP? Have we ever thought to bring him or her into the loop? Could they be a valuable ally for all stakeholders grappling with an adverse event? Absolutely.
We're missing something important here. The PCP is the one person most patients and families not only know well, but they often trust this individual. How valuable could PCPs be in your disclosure program? If the hospital does not inform PCPs about adverse events, they (the PCPs) are left to speculate like patients and families. Something to think about as you refine and develop your disclosure program...
Something else to think about is scheduling Sorry Works! for a Grand Rounds or ethics seminar for your organization. Moreover, you might be interested in formal disclosure training. You just need to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 618-559-8168.
Doug Wojcieszak, Founder and President
618-559-8168 (direct dial)
email@example.com (direct e-mail)