Have you ever heard someone throw his teammate under the bus in hopes of making himself look better? It happens all the time, and, unfortunately, it doesn’t make anyone look good. In fact, placing blame on other departments, individuals, or circumstances leaves patients wondering if the organization has its act together.
I recently heard a patient complain that he had been waiting for over an hour to have an x-ray, and when he reported the delay to the receptionist, she said, “Well, that’s because the nurse didn’t give us the right paperwork.” In other words, “It’s not my fault. Someone else dropped the ball, so don’t blame me.” Besides being irritated with the wait, the patient started to question what other hand-offs had been or would be missed. He didn’t stop to think whose fault it was; he just wanted the right care in an efficient manner.
Patients don’t understand the infrastructure or processes within your organization, nor should they have to. Their focus is on their own needs and their own care, and it’s up to each of us to make sure nothing erodes their trust in us. This means that, when things go awry, it’s important for each person on the team to speak on behalf of the organization to own and correct the situation without placing blame.
Patients have to be able to trust that everyone on their care team is working as a well-oiled machine. Any indication that you aren’t functioning as a team leaves doubt and concern in patients’ minds that their care might be compromised.
It’s important to abolish blame within your culture and adopt one of ownership and problem-solving for the good of the patient.