Illness or injury may occasionally strike members, program participants, guests, or others when they are on organization premises. To ensure proper care it is important that your staff be familiar with and adhere to your Emergency Action Plan for medical emergencies (please see our website for an example). Organization staff should clearly show care, concern, and compassion to and for any affected party. It is alright to provide sympathy to the individual as that does not admit guilt. They should not accept blame nor admit fault. Neither should they discuss the incident with or in the presence of the media, members, guests, or other outsiders. After the medical crisis has passed, the following steps should be completed to provide comfort to the ill or injured party and to reduce the chances of litigation.
An incident or accident report should be completed immediately. The name, age, address, and telephone of the involved party, date, time, nature of injury or illness, outcome, and witnesses, etc. should be obtained before the parties leave the premises, possibly by other staff while the injured is being tended. Filing this report with the Redwoods Group allows review by claims professionals to determine what action, if any, is needed to minimize any financial repercussions.
A follow-up telephone call to check on the individual's physical condition, mental state, and expectations should be made by the facility's management to the injured party and/or the parent either that evening or the next day, depending on the time of the incident.
If the individual is a child from a divorced or separated family, phone calls perhaps should be made to both parents, assuming both are known, and assuming no known legal restrictions. Keeping both parents informed prevents confusion, misunderstanding, and miscommunication.
If the individual was hospitalized s/he should receive a card from the organization's management. It must be clear that the card is from the organization. It should also be signed by any program leader or other staff that worked with the individual, were involved, or were present at the incident.
If the individual is going to be convalescing or hospitalized for a significant period of time, a physical or telephone visitation procedure should be established. The CEO, Executive Director, and/or other key staff members should periodically visit or call during the period of recovery.
The multiple points of contact is crucial. It enhances member satisfaction by demonstrating the care and concern of the organization and staff. It keeps the organization regularly apprised of the individual's condition and maintains open lines of communication, thus reducing the chances of litigation. Unless the individual is adversarial, organization contact is generally preferable to contact with an insurance carrier, as it is more familial and less institutional. The organization should neither make promises, nor discuss or tender payment or settlement. Our claims department should be kept apprised of general conditions and should be informed immediately of any demands, threats, or comments regarding payment, restitution, or litigation.