When medical errors occur, many times besides the patient even the family suffers. Families have feeling of guilt and anger. They believe that they should have been vigilant enough to prevent the medical error and there is resentment not just to the clinician who was treating the patient but to the entire hospital.
This primarily stems from the fact that hospitals and healthcare providers close rank and keep families out of the communication loop. In addition, they do not acknowledge that they made a mistake. Instead, they try to rest the blame either on the patient or the family. The healthcare provider is not present to support the family when the medical error occurs and they have to handle the entire situation alone.
The one way to deal with medical errors and families and to overcome guilt, fear and loneliness, which is felt by the care provider and the family, is to try and build bridges and develop solutions that will not just prevent medical errors but also lead towards forgiveness.
The best way to do this is to have honest and direct communication with family members rather than assigning blame. The need of the hour is to talk openly and understand the situation and the impact. Medical errors and families can be handled if appropriate steps are taken. One of the basic fears that families experience after medical errors is further harm and retribution from healthcare providers for expressing their feelings. This can be easily handled by having an honest dialogue with families and looking to undo the damage done if possible.
When it comes to medical errors, most families feel that the healthcare provider does not empathize with them and they do not reach out and try to connect with them. If they just make an effort, a lot of communication barriers will be broken.
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