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Put lawyers at your back

April 25, 2014
by Kevin Turner
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What does that have to do with your renovation project? Stay with me. I’m getting to it. Recently, I gave a talk to a group of hospital facilities directors. I showed them a sampling of the hundreds of anti-ligature products that have been introduced to the market in the last ten years. I asked them if they had these products in their facilities. Most of them shook their heads “no.” Then I asked them this questions:

“If a patient manages to harm themself in your facility, how will you explain to their family’s lawyer WHY you don’t have any of these safety products in your facility?”

I saw a lot of scared looks in the room and many of them told me afterwards how much the question challenged them. You see, hospitals spend a fortune on infection control and fall prevention. Why? Because those are big liabilities. Safety in the psych unit is too. If you think in terms of risk management, you may find that the dollars are easier to get.

My guess is that you have already told your C suite that your unit is the oldest in the facility. That it doesn’t have enough office space to attract the doctors you need. That it doesn’t have a well-functioning nurse station. That it doesn’t have good visibility or sufficient cameras. You have surely told them that it isn’t an optimal therapeutic environment. Despite all these reasons, your project stays at the bottom of the priority list. Why? Because they invest in revenue per square foot and you aren’t going to win that battle.

If you want the renovation, don’t tell them what they will gain by doing it. Tell them what they can lose by NOT doing it. While you are at it, remind them: Lawyers are scary!


Kevin Turner

Principal, Perkins+Will

Kevin Turner

Kevin is a recognized leader in the design and operations of behavioral healthcare facilities. ...

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