It's every hospital administrator's nightmare: the unexplained death of a patient under the hospital's care. However, it does provide a good case study in crisis management. Read what is known about the case and then share your thoughts in the comments section.
Over two weeks ago, a patient was admitted to San Francisco General Hospital for treatment of an infection. Later that evening, a nurse checked on the patient at about 10:15. When the nurse returned fifteen minutes later, the patient had disappeared. The hospital implemented its missing patient protocol, which involved a search by hospital staff and sheriff's deputies who provide security at the hospital. As the days went by, family and friends canvassed the surrounding area and posted notices across the city, all to no avail.
Yesterday a hospital employee conducting a quarterly inspection of a little-used fire escape stairwell encountered the body that has tentatively been identified as the missing patient. The door to the stairwell is located a short distance from the patient's bed and is fitted with an alarm and locked from the inside. It's not yet known whether the alarm was working at the time the patient disappeared.
Those are the bare facts of the case. Put yourself in the place of the hospital administrator. What are your top priorities? What message will you give to the public and the family? How will you regain public trust over this incident?
I'll share some of my thoughts in my next post.