Inviting Apologies from CDC, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Anyone Blaming Texas Nurses for Ebola Exposure

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The Ebola crisis may inadvertently present an opportunity now to build trust that has been broken while preventing more painful lessons will remain a priority for a long time to come .  Most recently by the CDC’s initial guidelines for Ebola protection and a CNN video by Dr. Sanjay Gupta demonstrating inadequate protection from the Ebola virus.  These visible and respected leaders made recommendations that did not have the best interests in mind for protecting healthcare professionals or the public.  At least they don’t appear to have. (and a quick appreciation for Nurse Andrew Lopez, RN of for  quick and clear 10/15/2014 youtube to address PPE for Ebola for frontline caregivers)

But, broken120px-Broken_glass,_Belfast,_April_2010-1 trust is not new to nurses.  Sadly there is a long history of ignoring, dismissing, or even humiliating nurses’ voices.  Lack of understanding about the complexity of nursing work is common among physician and administrative leaders, and some nurse leaders too.  Staffing decisions are made that harm patients and providers.  And then there is this tendency or entitlement that people seem to have that seeks to blame nurses.  This too is an old problem and may organizational cultures have blaming insidiously infused in them.  Blaming the nurses in Texas for exposure to Ebola was all over the news.

We talk a lot about assertiveness in nurses and ownership is an integral part of developing this communication skill.  We want/need healthy work cultures, effective communication, and optimal collaboration and without a foundation of trust, these things will be hard to come by.  What an opportunity to role-model the respectful (and tough) communication skills while demonstrating authentic leadership and taking a profound step towards improving patient safety and quality of care!  (Kudos also to Lynn McVey, COO and Wendell Potter, former VP at Cigna for demonstrating the kind of leadership I’m talking about!)

Also please note:  The idea of apologizing is extremely important in communicating with patients and families when we’ve made mistakes and caused harm.  Registration is live for this dynamic leilaniwebinar:  Disclosure, Transparency, and Compassion Following Medical Errors and Adverse Events: The responsible path to healing and improvements in patient safety with Leilani Schweitzer.   Leilani lost her 20 month old son, Gabriel to medical errors and has so much to teach us about this topic.  (Live event will be 11/13/2014 1-2p EST and recorded event w/ CE option is good for a year).  Please join us as we answer key questions like:

  • What constitutes a genuine apology?
  • What communication strategies can help with the difficult process of disclosure?
  • What types of programs and resources are available?

Register here!



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What are your thoughts?