'Trust in healthcare has never been more important': UAB Medicine's 10 things that should never happen at patient visits

A patient’s relationship with their healthcare organization is built on trust. Trust is continually gained or lost depending on the patient's experience. In some cases, interactions are so profound they create lifetime brand loyalty. In other cases, one interaction alone can erode or even permanently sever a patient’s trust in their healthcare organization.

Trust in healthcare has never been more important than it is today. The COVID-19 global pandemic has created a new world for the American healthcare industry, a world in which masks and face coverings cover the smiles we once saw, virtual visits supersede in-person care, and visitor precautions leave patients feeling isolated. At UAB, while we've never lost sight of quality and safety — in many ways it has ramped up — we know that building trust right now means doubling down on showing kindness and compassion to patients when they need our expertise and guidance most.

Here is the Office of Patient Experience and Engagement team's top 10 list of 'never events.' Eliminating these events from practice will help strengthen patient trust and ensure they feel safe, respected and valued.

Before the visit, never
· Cancel an appointment on the same day (or within 48 hours for that matter).
· Schedule or reschedule an appointment without involving the patient.
· Cause a patient to go home because they could not find parking or find their clinic.

During the visit, never
· Get on an elevator or pass someone in the hallway without smiling and speaking.
· Bad mouth your colleagues, other departments, or the organization to a patient or in front of a patient.
· Rudely dismiss research a patient has done – graciously offer other trusted materials/resources, and celebrate them for taking an active role and being so engaged in their care.
· Turn a patient away for lack of records on consults. Focus on what you can do right then and there, and create a plan for the future.

 At the end or after their visit, never

· Assume the patient understands what to do next. Always follow up with clear instructions and ask if they have any questions.
· Discharge a patient without providing verbal and written instructions.
· Send a bill for an incorrect amount or a bill that doesn’t state what it’s for.
· Put the onus on the patient to keep following up on pre-certification, test results, scheduling procedures/imaging, important paperwork/work release papers, portal/phone messages or Rx refills. You should proactively keep tabs on all of these items.


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