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Classic articles every manager and aspiring leader should read and share with their teams.

After Patient Ms. W received surgery on the wrong-site in her neck to relieve neck pain, she soon experienced adverse health effects, such as pain, distress, and lack of trust in healthcare providers. Ms. W’s experience illustrates the lack of communication between physicians and patients. The discrepancy is poor physician communication and refusal of apologizing for malpractice is due to fear of litigation. To improve patient-physician communication, health systems are encouraged to implement programs that encourage disclosure among healthcare professionals and trainees to improve overall healthcare quality.

Communication-and-resolution programs (CRPs) aim to increase disclosure, learning, and responsibility following adverse medical incidents. The authors of this article identify five obstacles that prevent CRPs from being successful: 1) public policy, 2) compensation for patients following medical errors, 3) application fidelity, 4) evidence of CRPs increasing patient safety, and 5) alignment of CRP methods with patient needs. To increase the success of CRPs, it is recommended that they should be coupled with CRP quality programs. Overall, health institutions are advised to implement these programs into their systems to promote transparency and patient and family engagement.

This study analyzed if a communication-and-resolution program (CRP) was effective in lowering adverse events among patients with chest pain, as well as lowering medical costs. The study concluded that the implementation of the CRP was efficient, since it helped increase the number of chest pain diagnoses as well as significantly reduced associated health costs.

The Collaborative for Accountability and Improvement Program is currently based at the University of Washington. The goal of the Collaborative is to bring together leading experts to support the growth and spread of Communication and Resolution Programs (CRPs), advocate on behalf of these programs with a shared voice, and exchange ideas. CRPs drive quality improvement, enhance patient safety, and facilitate patient-centered accountability. This CRP (Communication and Resolution Program) brochure describes CRP Core Commitments, Key Steps in the CRP Process and Launching a CRP.



In communication-and-resolution programs (CRPs), health systems and liability insurers encourage the disclosure of unanticipated care outcomes to affected patients and proactively seek resolutions, including offering an apology, an explanation, and, where appropriate, reimbursement or compensation. Anecdotal reports from the University of Michigan Health System and other early adopters of CRPs suggest that these programs can substantially reduce liability costs and improve patient safety. In this study, CRP participants were interviewed. They identified several factors that contributed to their programs’ success, including the presence of a strong institutional champion and investing in building and marketing the program to skeptical clinicians.

Journal Article
Published articles related to CRP
Communication-and-resolution programs: The jury is still out

This article explains how communication-and-resolution programs (CRPs) are successful in decreasing litigation fees and compensation that results from patient harm. However, the success of CRPs depends on patient satisfaction, making it necessary for healthcare professionals to focus on factors that increase this. Even though there is little evidence to support the idea that CRPs reduce adverse medical events that result in patient harm, these programs do have the potential to do so.

Journal Article
Published articles related to CRP
CRP resource or tool (e.g. CANDOR)
Disclosure Coaching: An Ask-Tell-Ask Model to Support Clinicians in Disclosure Conversations

Despite the obvious need for open conversations with patients and their families following an adverse event, many organizations still lack the structure to support providers during this difficult time. In many cases, clinicians who have to disclose errors to patients and families fail due to lack of provider education and training, lack of confidence, fears of litigation and emotional distress.

The Ask-Tell-Ask Model focuses on successful disclosure coaching conversations. It includes:

  1. Case Scenario
  2. Key elements
  3. Practical step-by-step strategies for disclosure coaching
  4. Pedagogical model using the “Ask-Tell-Ask” approach
  5. Organizational considerations for establishing a coaching program

This article dissects the meaning of “disclosure-and-resolution” programs, which call health organizations to disclose medical errors to patients and families involved; apologize; and offer compensation when necessary. Health systems that used approach found decreased litigation fees. Researchers analyzed surveys in which individuals used “disclosure-and-resolution programs where appropriate. They found that increasing compensation allowances following an adverse event did not improve results, nor did it decrease the likelihood of patients and families filing lawsuits following an adverse event. Thus, it is important for healthcare systems to remember that “disclosure-and-resolution” programs may help promote effective and honest communication between patients and families, but it does not decrease associated legal costs or the possibility of a lawsuit.

CRP resource or tool (e.g. CANDOR)
Early Discussion & Resolution (EDR) Conversation Guidance

Early Discussion & Resolution (EDR) Conversation Guidance from Oregon Patient Safety Commission offers general guidance that can serve as a foundation in initiating conversations and follow ups.

An adverse event can gravely affect both patients and their families and providers. Having a conversation between healthcare providers and patients about the incident can bring resolution and closure.

Goals of EDR from Oregon Patient Safety Commission:

  1. Prevent an unfortunate situation from escalating
  2. Restore the keystone of healthcare—the provider-patient relationship
  3. Bring greater peace of mind to everyone
  4. Learn from events to improve patient safety

Communication-and-resolution programs (CRPs) are implemented in hospitals to increase patient safety and effective communication between healthcare providers following patient injury. CRPs act as a guide for hospitals to disclose information to patients after medical injury, ways to efficiently investigate the incident, and how to take accountability for the event and offer compensation when appropriate. In this study, the authors analyzed the effectiveness of CRPs in reducing patient harm four Massachusetts health systems. The authors found that CRP implementation were correlated with decreased litigation fees, but they did not alter any other pertinent outcomes, such as reducing patient harm and increasing transparent communication.


The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) published the Communication and Optimal Resolution toolkit, which is a guide for the implementation of communication-and-resolution programs (CRPs). These are holistic and systematic methods for preventing and responding to adverse medical events involving patients. The toolkit also guides on how to promote sincere communication between patients, families and the healthcare team; appropriate financial compensation; and efficient ways to decrease future adverse medical events. The authors describe their personal experiences with applying CRPs in their medical practices in more than 200 hospitals. From their experiences, the authors describe the obstacles that prevented the success of CRP implementation, as well as how they overcame them.

Researchers studied the factors that encourage and hinder reconciliation after an adverse patient incident occurs. They also discuss recommendations for health systems to follow to approach malpractice legal cases. It was concluded that healthcare organizations should not follow a “one size fits all” approach to all adverse events that compromise patients safety. Rather, they should be flexible when approaching them so they can follow guidelines that promote the best-practice policies for patient safety and exceptional healthcare.


Communication-and-resolution programs (CRPs) are a systematic response to address adverse medical events, as well as to promote patient safety and healthcare quality. In this study, researchers analyzed the effectiveness of implementing the Communication and Optimal Resolution, a CRP, at MedStar Health, an American community health organization. Researchers found that this program was effective in increasing the number of incident reports, as well as decreased the number of adverse events associated with lawsuits.

Researchers of this article studied the long-term impacts (LTIs) of medically adverse events on families and patients years after they occurred. They found that the four main LTIs were 1) prolonged financial effects, 2) continuous anger and vivid recollections of the event, 3) changes in self-identity and health behaviors, and 4) chronic physical effects. The findings of this report emphasize the need for future research focusing on ways to help families and patients dealing with the effects of adverse health events.

Communication-and-resolution programs (CRPs) help healthcare providers and insurers effectively communication with patients when  medically adverse event occurs, as well as offer the necessary steps to take to give compensation. Researchers examined the effectiveness of CRP implementation in two Massachusetts hospitals. They concluded that, when the hospitals followed the CRP protocols, there were no drastic increases in liability fees associated with adverse health outcomes. Thus, CRPs helped these hospitals proactively handle adverse incidents and any related litigation fees.

The Medical Event Reporting System for Transfusion Medicine published the “Patient Safety and the ‘Just Culture’: A Primer for Health Care Executives” report, which consists of collected data and analyses on transfusion medicine practices and other related errors. This report also serves as a guide for healthcare administrators, human resource manages, and lawyers to understand current policies and how to successfully implement new investigating and reporting systems that acknowledge human errors and promote overall safety in the workplace.



The purpose of this study was to examine the experiences of families and patients with medically adverse incidents, as well as to understand how different healthcare organizations respond to these events. Researchers found that, following adverse events, patient satisfaction was at its peak when communication was compassionate and included discussion of compensation. Satisfaction was also at its highest when physicians attentively listened to patients without interjecting during the conversation.


Journal Article
Published articles related to CRP
Patients’ experiences with disclosure of a large-scale adverse event.

This article discusses the importance for healthcare organizations to understand the patient’s perspective after they received disclosure following an adverse medical event, because it could help them develop more effective communication methods. Researchers found that patients preferred it when healthcare systems disclosed adverse events to them. They also found that these systems should implement policies that promote disclosure between patients and physicians.

Journal Article
Published articles related to CRP
Peer Support for Clinicians: A Programmatic Approach

This article delves into the burnout epidemic plaguing physicians. The epidemic is caused by prolonged work hours, lack of resources, and demanding documentation. The burnout is also caused by emotionally stressing factors, such as those related to medically adverse incidents. To combat this epidemic, researchers of this article advocate for healthcare organizations to implement support systems that aid physicians’ well-being. In this study, the authors analyzed the effectiveness of a physician peer-support program in the Center for Professionalism and Peer Support at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. They found that this program used various techniques to promote physicians’ well-being, such as engaging in attentive listening and reflection to cope with stress in the workplace.

The purpose of this study was to identify certain communication behaviors linked with poor healthcare practice history in medical professionals. Researchers identified specific communication acts correlated with fewer malpractice allegations for physicians. Effective communication behaviors included utilizing humor and encouraging patients to express their opinions. Physicians can use these results to not only increase effective communication with their patients but to also decrease the risk of misbehavior and carelessness in the healthcare setting.


The authors of this article analyzed the importance of developing a support system for physicians so they can effectively cope with stress in the workplace, especially following an adverse medical event. Researchers found that peer support groups are one of the most effective support systems for physicians.


Web resource/Digital Article
General website that contains CRP related information, may be non-specific or general or mixed resources on a website. Article published on-line. Not available as paper version.
PSNet: Root Cause Analysis

Root cause analysis (RCA) is a systematic method used to analyze adverse incidents, especially in the healthcare setting. This approach identified both active and latent errors that contribute to adverse incidents. Active errors occur between humans and the system, while latent errors are known as the hidden issues in a healthcare system. An important principle of RCA is to recognize the source of problems that contribute the increased risk of medical errors, while not concentrating on individual mishaps as the sole cause of the issue.



Journal Article
Published articles related to CRP
RCA2: Improving root cause analyses and actions to prevent harm

The National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) published this report on root cause analyses and actions (“RCA2”), which are programs aimed to reduce the risk of adverse medical events and instead increase effective measures to reduce them in the future. This report illustrates strategies that healthcare organizations can utilize when implementing RCA2 programs in the workplace. This report also details specific strategies that help healthcare organizations identify the faults and hazards in their systems that increase the risk of adverse medical outcomes, as well as how to take active and positive steps to prevent them from happening in the future.



Sidney Dekker, the author of Second Victim: Error, Guilt, Trauma, and Resilience, discusses how healthcare professionals are considered second victims in medical mishaps, because of the trauma and guilt they experience int the wake of these incidents. In his book, Dekker details efficient ways to investigate medically adverse events so that healthcare professionals do not feel neglected or more guilty in the process. Dekker also emphasizes the importance of having support systems in healthcare settings for second victims.


The Charter on Medical Professionalism, endorsed by the US Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, requires physicians to engage in honest communication with their patients, especially regarding risks and benefits regarding medical procedures. However, researchers found that not all physicians abided by these rules which raises the concern that physicians may not fully disclose pertinent information with their patients, so they do not receive complete information. Honest communication between patients and their physicians is associated with patient comfort and willingness to move forward in medical procedures.


Healthcare professionals are reluctant to apologize for medical errors, because they fear it could be used against them in lawsuits. In response to this issue, some states are developing policies that legally protect physicians, so they feel more comfortable apologizing to patients involved in medical errors. Even though these policies seem beneficial in theory, researchers found that these laws could discourage apologies and honest communication between patients and physicians following adverse medical events. Thus, researchers emphasize the importance for states to develop policies with modified legal protections and implications to not only promote disclosure between patients and physicians following adverse medical incidents, but also do not weaken the legal influence on lawsuits involving malpractice.

Journal Article
Published articles related to CRP
The Handbook of Communication and Social Interaction Skills

The Handbook of Communication and Social Interaction Skills is a holistic guide that draws form theories and surveys to improve communication and social interaction skills in various environments and settings. This handbook is divided into five sections: theoretical and methodological concepts (gaining and assessing skills); basic social interaction skills; persuading, informing, and supporting skills; various relationship skills (marriages, friendships, and romances); and skills necessary for public leadership and management (teaching and supervising).

Journal Article
Published articles related to CRP
The Impact of Adverse Events on Clinicians: What’s in a Name?

The authors of this article discuss how physicians are dubbed “second victims,’ due to the negative emotional and psychological challenges they experience as a result of patient adverse incidents. The authors also illustrate how the term “second victim” can be a harmful term, since it implies passivity and mitigates the experiences of patients and families also affected by medical errors. It is argued that this term points to the necessity of healthcare institutions to implement support programs to help physicians heal and cope following the negative effects of adverse health outcomes.

Journal Article
Published articles related to CRP
Wisdom in Medicine: What Helps Physicians After a Medical Error?

This article explores how physicians gain wisdom following an adverse medical event. Methods included discusses the incident with colleagues, forgiveness, accepting imperfection in the medical profession, and admitting the mistake and apologizing. These methods not only help physicians learn and cope with medically adverse events, but also help them develop a positive outlook.