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Nurses and Front-Line Staff

Far too many people believe that disclosure is just a doctor issue....well, it a doctor issue, but it's also a nurse and front-line staff issue. It's an everybody issue!

I've heard/seen way too many hospital CEOs and defense lawyers wring their hands and say, "We can't trust our nurses with disclosure. Heaven only knows what they'll say to patients and families. Easier to tell them to be quiet and we'll do all the talking." Yet, I’ve had risk managers say the following to me: “This hospital supports disclosure, but the disclosure message hasn’t gotten down to the front-line staff, especially the nurses.  And when events happen, the docs don’t want to talk, but the patients and families are constantly berating our nurses with questions and accusations.  Many nurses avoid the room, talk in hushed tones, physically turn away from the patient/family if they absolutely must go in the room, or blurt out something about an error happened, get a lawyer.  We look guilty all the time, when maybe the care was good and it was simply a known complication.” 

Nurses not talking, not empathizing, not staying connected with patients and families post-event is NOT an option.  The chance that a nurse might say something “wrong” is no excuse to go back to deny and defend risk management strategies --- but it is instead a call to train, train, and train.  We need to train our nurses how to empathize and stay connected post-event.   

This doesn't mean that nurses will be apologizing for docs, but it does mean that nurses and front-line staff should know that it's OK for them to empathize - say "sorry" - and stay connected with patients and families post-adverse event. In fact, we want the nurses and staff to take service to a new, higher level with patients/families post-adverse event. We want nurses to be part of our effort to save and restore relationships.  

Whenever I give Sorry Works! presentations for Grand Rounds or conduct disclosure training seminars, I always tell my host to invite the nurses and other staff.  I love teaching nurses and other front-line staff.  For more information on disclosure training for your nurses and staff, call or e-mail today: 618-559-8168 or

Nurses can also benefit greatly from our new on-line disclosure training program.  E-mail to schedule a preview webinar of the program.   


- Doug

Doug Wojcieszak, Founder
Sorry Works!
PO Box 531
Glen Carbon, IL 62034
618-559-8168 (direct dial)

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