The Four Stages of Grief, for Doctors

02 Dec 2014

Nathan Wilson, a self-identified “qualitologist,” said that “nothing will agitate a group of physicians more than introducing patient experience surveys into their practice,” despite the benefits of incorporating the patient voice. When patient experience surveys were initially piloted, the results were positive. But, when the program expanded, Wilson found that physicians experienced the “four stages of grieving:” denial, fear, anger, and acceptance. Wilson’s group used the data, and the physicians with the worst patient satisfaction scores received bedside manner training—and saw their scores greatly improve. His group is still working on the final phase of grieving (acceptance), but the doctors know patient experience surveys are the way of the future.

Nathan Wilson, MD, F.A.C.P., is the vice president of quality and safety at Southern Maine Health Care Internal Medicine.