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Throwing Each Other Under the Bus – The Patients are the Ones Wearing the Tire Tracks

Posted by Kristin Baird on March 7th, 2017 • No Comments »

A great patient experience requires that every person does everything within his or her power to build patient trust. One thing that quickly erodes trust is when a patient hears that someone else or some other department isn’t doing their share, or isn’t living up to the standard. They are throwing each other under the bus and the one getting hurt is the patient.

You may think that this doesn’t happen in your organization, but I’m here to tell you that it probably does. I’ve heard it myself so often that I’m fairly confident that it happens more than you think.

We’ve all heard about managing up your co-workers. That’s where you say things to raise patient confidence in their caregivers and support staff. Many organizations teach this tactic and I feel it can be very effective. At the same time, they may inadvertently throw another teammate or department under the bus. Under the guise of explaining the “why” behind a problem, staff members give extraneous information that doesn’t serve anyone. For example:

While doing hourly rounding coaching, I overheard a patient complain to an aid that their meal had been cold when it should have been served hot. The aid said, “That’s because we only have one person delivering the trays. You must have been the last one.” That was an explanation that didn’t help anyone. The patient still got a cold meal and now has little faith that the process that created the cold meal will be fixed.

This example was not only a service recovery opportunity but it was a chance to take ownership on behalf of the organization. By explaining instead of owning, the patient is now clear that there isn’t a process in place to fix the problem. Dietary and the process surrounding meal delivery was just thrown under the bus, but it’s the patient who suffers.

Listen carefully for how staff manage patient concerns. Explanations can still throw people under the bus.

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Baird Consulting


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