Involving Consumers in Post-Event Reviews: Health Affairs Disclosure Articles
The January 2014 edition of Health Affairs published a series of six articles on the disclosure and apology movement. I am going to be reviewing these articles over the next week, starting with the article titled: "Structuring Patient and Family Involvement in Medical Error Event Disclosure and Analysis" written by Etchegaray et. al. This article covers an important part of the disclosure process, but, unlike the overall disclosure process of empathy, communication, and (if necessary) apology, what this article covers is NOT well known to many healthcare, insurance, and legal professionals. I am glad the authors tackled this topic, and I encourage you, our readers, to explore this article and draw your own conclusions.
We've actually covered this topic before in Sorry Works! In short, we've said the act of involving patients-families in post-event reviews is, at the minimum, very empathetic (some people just want to be heard), adds enormous credibility to the process, and you can learn a lot about the care that was delivered. We are actually suggesting that you do post-event interviews of patients-families and get their perspective on the care that was rendered. Indeed, how can a review or investigation be complete without talking to all the stakeholders, especially the patients and families?!? And thanks to our friend Dr. Oz and other patient advocates, consumers are more vigilant than ever when entering a hospital or Doctor's office. They are paying attention to everyting, getting names of staff and procedures, etc, and writing it all down in that little black book. I always ask my audiences during a live Sorry Works! training "Don't you want to know what's in that little black book that the wife has been writing in religiously for the last three days?! I sure would! Because if you don't find out, guaranteed a lawyer will find out." And consider this: Thanks to the increased handoffs in medicine, the multitude of specialists, etc, most times the only constant in the care continum is the family. The sister or wife or parent who has been sitting by the bedside from start to finish. They've seen it all, and not to talk to them is foolish on multiple levels. And, again, some folks just want to be heard, and I've had several risk managers report to me that after hearing out a family the situation is resolved.
And here is the link for the abstract of the Health Affairs article along with information on how to order the full copy of the article: http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/33/1/46.abstract. I really encourage our readers to obtain the full copy of this article and read it along side the two links above to get a full range of ideas on how to better involve patients and families post-event.