Archive ORX Session Previews 2017

Truth or Consequences: Open Disclosure vs. Deny and Defend

You can avoid litigation and reputation damage through transparency and open disclosure.

Kenneth Rothfield, MD, MBA, CPE


OR Excellence

It's OK to say you're sorry to patients when surgery doesn't turn out as planned. That might sound like heresy to those who were taught to deny and defend in the face of preventable harm, but a growing body of evidence shows that being open and honest with patients who've had an unexpected outcome drives down the chances of being sued. Anesthesiologist Kenneth P. Rothfield, MD, MBA, CPE, CPPS, who calls himself the Chief Apology Officer for Ascension Health, will tell you how to implement an open disclosure program during, "Truth or Consequences: Open Disclosure vs. Deny and Defend."

Self-preservation. Traditionally, doctors, nurses and administrators turn to self-preservation when there's an unexpected outcome. All of us in medicine have grown up with the idea that we want to do everything in favor of patients — until we make a mistake and hurt somebody. Then we put up a wall of silence until we get an attorney's letter.

Nobody wins. Patients who've been harmed have very little recourse. You don't get an apology or an explanation, so you end up getting an attorney and suing. And the healthcare provider who's sued goes through an agonizing experience — only to settle on the courtroom steps years later. Many say a medical malpractice case is the worst experience of their lives.

CORE. We call it CORE: Communicate Openly, Resolve Early (CORE). The hallmark of a good disclosure program is not only telling the truth to patients, but also managing the harm you caused. This is a sea change for organizations brought up with the idea of deny and defend.

Kenneth P. Rothfield, MD, MBA, CPE, CPPS

speaker profile
arrow System vice president and chief medical & quality officer at Saint Vincent's Healthcare of Ascension Health in Jacksonville, Fla.
arrow Previously served as chairman of the department of anesthesiology at Ascension's Saint Agnes Hospital in Baltimore, as well as adjunct associate professor of nursing at the University of Maryland.
arrow Nationally recognized for his work in patient safety, including emergency airway management, opioid safety and respiratory monitoring.
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