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Medical Error Self-Reporting Stifled by Fears of Retaliation

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, June 6, 2011

Lovering says AtlantiCare engages its managers as coaches and mentors for the staff they supervise. "So if someone makes a patient safety error that would be a coaching-for-improvement opportunity. That is the way we view it and we have taught our supervisors to view it that way," he says.

But even that isn't enough to protect employee confidence from the occasional "rogue manager," Lovering says. Employees must have a safe outlet to vent their concerns about retaliation. So, AtlantiCare contracted with an outside company that fields Intranet complaints from staff about supervisors – or any other area of hospital operations. Employees who complain have the option of remaining anonymous.

At first, the idea that employees would be able to anonymously complain about their bosses didn't sit well with supervisors. "We heard a lot about 'how am I going to prevent employees from making me look bad, saying things that aren't happening?'"

Lovering says. "I've had very little of that. I tell managers 'if you are creating an environment where employees want to sabotage your career that says something about the environment you are creating.'"

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