After Medical Errors Disclosure Transparency & Collaboration Can Meet Needs

Leilani Schweitzer, Assistant Vice President, Communication & Resolution, Stanford Health Care
Abdul Hamamsy, Assistant Vice President/Sr. Litigation Specialist, Stanford Health Care

Nine years ago, Stanford Healthcare formally launched a communication and resolution program, PEARL, to respond to the needs created after medical errors. Since then, a patient representative has been fully integrated into the team responding to these critical events. Many hospitals stand behind the principals of disclosure and transparency — they are morally and ethically easy to support as a policy. But transforming a policy into practice is not straight forward. There are many people and issues involved — patients, families, care teams, administrators, risk managers and regulators all have concerns and motivations. Collaboration and an understanding of the whole ecosystem surrounding errors are vital for keeping a terrible event from getting worse. The patient or family member is essentially left alone in the wilderness, gaining information only if it is given to them or if they gather their own legal team. Stanford Healthcare fully integrated a patient representative into the risk management/legal department to better understand and respond to patient and family needs. This session will include discussions of data illustrating the financial benefits of Stanford’s communication and resolution program, case studies to illustrate the “non-measurable,” but equally important impacts of apology and transparency on patients, families and care providers and the method and motivations for the integration of physician peer support within our critical event review process.