Whether a private medical practice in California has an issue because of a medical mistake or an unfortunate outcome, what the media does with the information can have a devastating impact on the practice.

As Relias Media points out, it is essential to create a crisis management plan to handle bad publicity.

Who should carry out the plan

The practice should designate a team of people who will be responsible for the various tasks associated with publicity management. While any given crisis requires a spokesperson, the right representative may differ depending on the situation. The key is credibility, which may require a doctor, a nurse, a recordkeeping professional or someone else. So, it may not be ideal to designate one specific person to fill the role.

What the plan may include

One of the first activities the plan should outline is gauging public opinion. This includes the thoughts patients may have on the incident. Nursing staff may be in a good position to speak to patients and determine whether they feel compelled to find a new physician. It may also be important to disseminate a survey among the general public to identify attitudes toward the practice.

Sometimes an incident arises from an issue such as a death that was not within the control of the doctor or others in the practice. In such cases, providing a public service message regarding the medical issue that caused the death may help the public to understand what happened better as well as educating them about that particular health problem.

When someone has made a mistake, it is usually best to create a plan that addresses the issues that led to the mistake, and then admit the mistake and present that plan to assure the public that it will not happen again.

When there is a legal issue

According to Physicians Practice, when the incident involves a criminal or civil legal issue, it is important to have a legal professional review any statements, formal or informal, before a representative or anyone connected to the practice makes them. Not only may these have affect the court of public opinion, but they could also contribute to the prosecution’s or plaintiff’s case against the doctor or the practice.