How This Children’s Hospital Risk Manager Opened Clear Communication Channels Between Staff and Parents
Some parents are notorious for getting out of control at youth sports. The same problem has become an emerging risk in children’s health care.
Medical staff and administration are increasingly caught among the conflicting demands of distraught parents on the one side and legal and regulatory requirements for protocol and documentation on the other.
Parents of sick or injured children anywhere are scared and can be angry. When they feel their child is not getting the proper care, they often try to contact senior executives to intervene. Sometimes they plead; sometimes they threaten complaints on social media.
There are even rising instances of violence.
According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2018, the health care and social service sectors experienced the highest rates of injuries caused by workplace violence, five times higher than the national average for all workers.
Even short of that extreme, the special pleading circumvents what are often mandated protocols under state health codes designed to ensure fairness, professionalism and uniform standards of care.
“I have worked at several institutions of different sizes, treating adults and children,” said Michelle Lucero, chief administrative officer and general counsel at Children’s Hospital Colorado, “and I know from personal experience this issue has been a growing problem for years. Executives have come to me, because they have been contacted and don’t know what to do.
“Bryan saw this need, this gap, and the regulatory and reputational risks behind it,” Lucero continued. “He is both innovative and collaborative. He came and spoke to me about his ideas and then worked in wider circles to get buy-in to the program.”
Director for the department of risk management at Children’s Hospital of Colorado Bryan Storey’s innovation and collaboration resulted in a clear policy and protocol for complaints and grievances.
It was designed so that patients would feel heard and their concerns would be taken seriously.
Further, it was designed so that medical and administrative staff can protect themselves and their institution from end-runs by patients without patience.
“Bryan’s real achievement was the synthesis,” said Lucero. “His program takes into account patients, regulatory issues, reputational issues and staff. He checked with our insurance providers and our network people.”
Storey has an undergraduate degree in biology as well as master’s degrees in public health and in health care administration.
“I’m not an attorney or a clinician,” he said plainly. “I have to get a lot of input to get the program developed, presented and accepted. Our executives loved the idea, but it was still complicated to work out the details. When I started, I checked with some colleagues, and no one said there is anything out there along these lines.
“I had a lot of support,” Storey continued, “from the staff and executives here, and also from our brokers and underwriters. The initiative started early this year, and only recently was implemented.” &
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