Insights From Our Editors

Truthfulness: A Core Value

Grace, one of Dr. Sorrenson's opticians, promising to be truthful. Dr. Sorrenson says the practice made honesty a core value that is talked about and instill at staff meetings.

Grace, one of Dr. Sorrenson’s opticians, promising to be truthful. Dr. Sorrenson says the practice made honesty a core value that is talked about and instilled at staff meetings.

Making honesty with patients integral to how you do business.

By Laurie Sorrenson, OD, FAAO

April 3, 2024

Our practice decided that being “truthful” is one of our core values.

Our core values spell FETCH (yeah, I never saw “Mean Girls”  😂): Friendly & Professional, Efficient, Truthful, Compassionate, and we Have fun.

Discussing Core Values at Weekly Meetings & Daily Huddles

We try to discuss one of our core values at most of our weekly meetings, and our morning meetings even end with “Let’s go WOW some patients and have some fun! 

When we discuss the core value of being Truthful, we acknowledge that this commitment to truthfulness is not only to each other, but also to our patients.

We foster an environment where honesty is not just encouraged but expected – where each team member is empowered to tell the truth, to us, to each other, and most importantly, to our patients.

How do we make that happen? We bring up real-life examples from our practice and outside our office that occur.

For example, my son and practice partner, Eric Hammond, OD, overheard one of our employees being truthful with a patient about an oversight that made the patient have to wait for over 15 minutes unnecessarily. She told the truth and took full responsibility.

My son brought this up in an office meeting, discussed ways that would have been “easier” for the employee, but were not the truth, and how proud he was of her for being truthful. She received a round of applause from the team!

What Happens When You’re NOT Honest with Patients?

Let me illustrate the power of truthfulness through a real-life example that hit close to home. Recently, my son and his wife experienced a challenging situation with their obstetrician’s practice. A mistake had occurred –  probably an oversight or mistake, but what followed was a chain of untruths.

They were given a date to go to the hospital to have labor induced. However, when they arrived at the doctor’s office three days prior to the date they were given, they were told the inducement date was over a week away.

The nurse initially denied any mistake, asserting that my son and his wife had the induction date wrong. However, the doctor promptly corrected this misinformation. Subsequently, the nurse claimed that their appointment had to be rescheduled due to more critical cases taking precedence. We strongly suspect this was another untruth because they never heard from the hospital prior to being told the new date.

Not Telling the Truth is an Intentional Choice

Herein lies the crux of the matter: making a mistake is unintentional, but not telling the truth is intentional. The nurse’s lack of transparency eroded some of the trust my family had in the obstetrician’s practice. The ripple effect of dishonesty in a healthcare setting is profound – it undermines not only the integrity of the business, but also the trust a patient places in their healthcare provider.

I firmly believe that the intentional act of not telling the truth can erode the trust our patients have in us. It’s not just about admitting mistakes; it’s about nurturing a culture where truthfulness is a reflex, not an exception.

If, on occasion, we find ourselves in a situation where a mistake was made, we try to own up to it without hesitation. For example, if a pair of glasses is not ordered as expected, we should take responsibility. When a patient calls, we should respond with transparency, saying,That’s horrible! I missed your order and didn’t get your glasses ordered like I should have. Let me see what I can do to get them as quickly as possible. I truly apologize, totally my fault.”

We acknowledge that, if a patient decides to leave our practice due to a mistake, so be it. The value of truthfulness transcends patient retention. But in reality, most patients will give you grace for an unintentional mistake.

Does your office value honesty? Do you give examples to your staff where honesty, even though it may be harder, is still the best policy? And do you tell your staff WHY it is the best policy? Sometimes we forget to tell ourselves and our staff WHY we do certain things!

“Mistakes are unintentional…Not telling the truth is intentional”…That’s our why.  🙂

Laurie Sorrenson, OD, FAAO, is president of Lakeline Vision Source in Cedar Park, Texas, and the Professional Editor of Review of Optometric Business (ROB). To contact her:



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