Life Imitating Art

Imagine this: you’re attending the CAMSS (California Association of Medical Staff Services) annual conference in Long Beach last June. You grab a seat in the breakout session presented by dynamic Nossaman LLP attorney, Carlo Coppo.

About halfway through the program, a clearly distressed woman stands up in the audience, says she is the Operating Room Supervisor at her hospital and asks if she can speak. As she starts to describe a disturbing incident, an enraged physician comes out of the audience and confronts her. He is hostile, aggressive, verbally abusive.

In the scene that ensues between them, we learn that the physician threatened the O.R. staff, sent a tray of sharp instruments flying and stormed out of the E.R. with a patient waiting. He feels justified because of perceived disrespect. He indicates he is under tremendous pressure from his workload. We learn it’s not the first time he has exploded. There has been harassment, offensive rants and comments. His conduct was reported but he is a top admitter and nothing was done. When the nurse says she must report the conduct to the Chief of Staff, the doctor laughs it off, demeans her, threatens reprisal. The nurse turns to the audience for input. Interactive discussion flows like a river in spring.

This is a scripted scene with fictitious characters – a “living hypothetical”” – which I and my Workplace Training Network (WTN) partner, Memo Mendez, perform with Carlo – but at the start, no one is sure. Concern, anxiety, watchfulness – and yes, fear – is palpable. You can feel the intensity of the audience wondering if things are about to go seriously off the rails, should someone do something before it does, and if so, what?

This gripping “edutainment” format has always been compelling, but never more than in today’s healthcare landscape.

The CAMSS program was on June 2. Fast forward to June 30, Bronx Lebanon Hospital, 2:45 p.m. That’s when an actual doctor, “allowed” to resign in 2015 amid sexual harassment allegations, walked into the hospital with an AR-15 assault rifle concealed in his lab coat, shot and killed another doctor and injured six others. He was described as aggressive, talking loudly and threatening people. Our hypothetical brought to life in the real world — where we never want to see it, but all too often do.

The scene we performed at CAMSS is one of four powerful, live-action episodes in our Online Title 8 Section 3342 compliant Healthcare Workplace Violence: Prevention, Recognition, Response course. We’ll perform it during the January 18, 2018 ACHD webinar. We hope to “see” you there.

By Kit Goldman, President and Founder, Workplace Training Network, Inc.       © 2017