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The headlines have faded, but the lesson remains: the recent story of an Oklahoma oral surgeon’s sub-par infection control practices for his patients diagnosed with HIV or hepatitis C, and the resulting media storm illuminates that a little preparation goes a long way to manage an unexpected event at your practice.
James Lukaszewski, who runs a division that bears his name with Risdall Public Relations in Minneapolis, has counseled scores of clients, from big business to doctors. To be sure, crises run the spectrum: not every mishap brings herds of TV cameras to your door. But Mr. Lukaszewski stressed that fast action on your part dictates whether the incident looms large and long for you, your employees and your practice.
Mr. Lukaszewski defines a crisis as any kind of event that stops people, stops production or operation and changes reputations.
While most of what happens daily in a dental practice is routine, Mr. Lukaszewski said problems are rare but possible: a patient trips or falls, a staff member is assaulted, a patient reacts adversely when an outdated medication is used accidently, an angry patient gets physical. All of these situations, Mr. Lukaszewski said, create a “victim,” someone who has been hurt in ways large or small.
“You need to think about what steps you need to take to remedy the situation in the shortest time,” he said. “The things you do in the very beginning set the tone and set the likelihood of avoiding bigger problems.”
Here’s Mr. Lukaszewski’s checklist for the first 60 minutes:
There are a couple proactive steps that can prove useful, Mr. Lukaszewski said.
A tradition of working for the dental profession. The Chicago Dental Society was organized in 1864 and incorporated in 1878. The objective of the Chicago Dental Society is to encourage the improvement of the health of the public, to promote the art and science of dentistry and to represent the intrest of the members of the profession and the public that it serves.
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