DNC Teaches Lesson in Preparing for the Unexpected

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The national political conventions may seem a world away from medical imaging, but close attention to either the Democratic or Republican meetings revealed an important lesson.

As they have been for decades, both conventions were heavily scripted and choreographed. The remarks of everyone who appeared on the dais were approved in advance and the motions or other comments of each person speaking from the floor were also known ahead of time.

But on Tuesday, September 4, a controversial motion was made from the floor by former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland. The contents of the motion are not the issue or the lesson here, it was what followed that is key. (Watch the video on YouTube here.)

After Strickland made his motion, convention chairman and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa asked for a voice vote from the delegates in attendance, with a two-thirds majority needed for passage.

Villaraigosa was clearly expecting the motion to carry with no trouble, but it did not. Unable to get a clear two-thirds majority after two votes, Villaraigosa turned around looking for a lifeline from a staff member, turned back to ask for a third vote, then declared the motion carried even though the “nays” appear to have out-voiced the “yeas.”

Villaraigosa punted when in fact, he should have been informed of the entire process and its possible complications long before he entered the hall.

It occurred to me that in all my years of consulting with medical imaging facilities large and small and in every region of the country, I do not know of one that has a training program for moments such as the one at the convention. Most, even all of them, have plans for the big events such as a fire or equipment malfunction, but short of those, there is little attention paid to the moments that occur without warning but which can severely affect your reputation.

As an example, there is one medical imaging facility in southern California that has a high level of blue collar patients. Because these patients work and cannot afford child care, they often bring their children. Yet, there is no plan or program or training for an incident or emergency that may occur when the child is separated from his or her mother.

Right now, those kids wait in the reception area. But would your staff know what to do if that child had a seizure and had to be taken to a hospital for a medical emergency? Would your staff know exactly what to do or what to say to the mother who emerged from an MRI only to find her child gone? Probably not, and despite your best intentions, she will tell her friends and family a horror story and may even write about it online on one of the healthcare rating sites.

The best solution to avoid these awkward “convention moments” is to create a list of possible emergency scenarios and rehearse and role play the responses regularly. Script them and choreograph them, just like the conventions. New staff members should be trained in how to handle a wide range of complications, not just the ones at the disaster level.

Preparing for these moments will not only preserve and protect your reputation, it could also avoid legal challenges.