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Sorry Works! Blog

Making Disclosure A Reality For Healthcare Organizations 

Marcy’s Story --- Disclosure Video From Allegiance Health

Recently I did a series of disclosure presentations for Allegiance Health in Michigan.   It was a great day, and the Allegiance folks gave me a video story to share with the Sorry Works! audience.  The video is entitled, “A Safety Story.” Husband and wife Marcy and Harv Slager were long-time chaplains for Allegiance Health.  They were very well-known and liked within the organization.  In 2006, Marcy felt severe chest pains and went to Allegiance to be checked out for a heart attack.  Marcy was given a complete work up – including a chest x-ray – but no heart attack was detected, the symptoms subsided, and Marcy was sent home.  Four years later Marcy was again experiencing chest pains and went back to Allegiance to be checked out for a possible heart attack.  Again, no heart attack was detected, but the ER physician told Marcy and Harv that the spot in her chest had increased in size since her last visit four years ago.

“What spot?” asked Marcy.

The video provided by Allegiance was the resolution to this disclosure case.  I find it remarkable on several levels.

First, I often hear some of the worst cases of cover-up, deny and defend, etc when healthcare professionals or their family members are on the receiving end of bad care. For example, a healthcare professional at a Midwestern hospital recently told me her family had just settled a med-mal case against a different hospital – after eight years of litigating.  I’ve heard many such heart wrenching stories across the country from clinicians.  Thankfully this was not the case with Marcy’s story and Allegiance.

Second, because of Marcy and her husband’s value system, they didn’t want Allegiance’s money. However, because of disclosure and transparency, Allegiance and the Slager’s continued talking and the idea of developing a video to share Marcy’s story was developed.   This is why disclosure is so important…..when anger is removed post-event and the relationship with the family is salvaged, you have a chance to find creative solutions that serve all stakeholders.  As a testament to the value and power of transparency, Harv continues as a chaplain at Allegiance.

Third, disclosure is the best patient safety initiative hands down.   When clinicians talk openly and honestly with families, there is a better chance to learn from mistakes and fix processes.  Marcy and Harv wanted the hospital to improve from this fatal mistake.  That’s why Allegiance named this video, “A Safety Story,” and uses it in new employee orientation and other forums throughout the health system.

This is an incredibly powerful video and example of disclosure and reconciliation in action.  It’s a tremendous example for other healthcare and insurance organizations across the United States and around the world.  We applaud Allegiance, and you will too.  Here is the video link.