Mortification as a crisis response strategy in hospital malpractice situations
Swanson, Elizabeth A.
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Mortification is an image restoration and crisis response strategy proposed by public relations scholars William Benoit and W. Timothy Coombs. Many healthcare professionals avoid apology in malpractice situations, treating the event as a legal problem. However, an up-and-coming organization, SorryWorks! Coalition, sees medical malpractice instead as a customer service problem. SorryWorks! takes the traditional medical cultures inclination to defend and deny´ mistakes head on, and is an advocate for appropriate disclosure, apology, and compensation in medical crisis, similar to Benoits and Coombs concept of mortification. This study analyzes the strategies recommended by SorryWorks! Coalition in context of Coombs crisis response strategy based on Attribution Theory and Benoits Image Restoration Theory. It also compares public relations strategies SorryWorks! Coalition is advocating with strategies the organization actually uses to get its points across. Results of this study suggest the possibility of additional strategies that would enhance Benoits and Coombs proposed frameworks.