Communication & Resolution Programs

Communication and Resolution Programs (CRPs) are a principled, comprehensive, and systematic approach for responding to unintended patient harm.

Despite the best intentions, healthcare does not always go as planned, which can result in harm to patients. Unintended patient harm remains a leading cause of death in the US, and can happen for many reasons, such as inherent complexity and risk, system breakdowns, communication failures, and human error. The response, or silence, from healthcare organizations can compound the pain for patients, families, and involved healthcare providers. Moreover, a lack of transparency can inhibit organizations from learning from the event and improving patient care.

CRPs offer healthcare organizations a more compassionate, patient-centered response that ultimately improves safety for patients in the future. A series of steps—taken by providers, risk managers, quality improvement leaders, healthcare leaders, and others when a patient is harmed—guide healthcare organizations in moving towards reconciliation for everyone involved. Open, empathetic communication and timely resolution for patient and providers, coupled with accountability and learning to prevent such events from recurring are at the core of the CRP process. The benefits accrue to everyone.

CRPs lead to an understanding of what went wrong, foster an environment of trust and respect with the patient or family, and improve quality of care.

At its highest level, the CRP process involves:

  • Reporting incidents of harm immediately
  • Conducting a rapid investigation of what happened
  • Sharing a full and complete explanation about the event with the patient and family
  • Providing psychosocial support for the patient, family and involved providers
  • Offering apologies
  • Proactively offering compensation for care that was found to be below the standard of care
  • Ensuring that lessons are learned to prevent recurrences