Negative Results Being Published at Hospital are Inspiring Positive Change

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A change in the way hospitals are approaching medical malpractice

Hospitals very rarely choose to share mistakes they make to the public, but the staff at Brigham and Women’s Hospital is now changing the matter in which they handle these missteps. As discussed in a previous blog concerning what our doctor’s don’t know about what they are prescribing us due to the lack of publicized negative results. A great deal of the medical field have been trained to only show the positive results of their efforts, even if the negative results are more of what the public should be made known of.

The doctors at Brigham and Women’s Hospital helped ease the pain of a dying patient who had come in with metastatic cancer. On the day she was being transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, her agony seemed to have lessened and they had even recalled her smiling. Because of a delay in the transferring due to a language barrier and communication breakdown, she was back at the ER at Brigham within a few hours in excruciating pain. The error had caused her to not get her medication on time.

Most of the time medical malpractice mistakes like this are kept quiet. Although infections or falls may be posted on hospital websites, there are rarely any details or candid comments on what actually happened, usually for the fear that patients and the public will be scared or start lawsuits. Brigham handled things slightly different by sharing the mistake they had made and the improvements that had sparked from it in an online monthly newsletter for their nearly 16,000 employees.

This open nature is respected by many institutions because it can lead to an improvement in work ethic. It holds them to a higher standard as well as honest and upfront relationship between the patient and doctor. Even though the newsletter wasn’t published directly to the public, Brigham plans on distributing paper copies of the newsletter in lounges, gathering spots, and various conference rooms throughout the hospital. Patient’s names and information are not ever posted in the newsletters.

Many times, the dramatic stories affect the staff more than statistics do. The stories inspire a change throughout the work place environment. Even though the improvement of Brigham has not been measured since they started releasing the newsletters, several changes in the hospital have been made as a result, and the staff says they see a difference.

We see this spark of change as a positive effort withing the medical field. When something is inspiring people to work hard at taking care of patients, it will in turn help the business of the hospital. Many people think that only positive marketing will instigate business, what they are missing is that sometimes honesty can be more popular than the positive promotion, especially when  others are not doing the same.

Source: The Boston Globe, “Brigham and Women’s airing medical mistakes,” Liz Kowalczyk, April 9, 2013.

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  1. […] more information on this topic, check out our blog on how Brigham and Women’s hospital is working to improve their staff and hospital […]

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