Managing a hospital's worst nightmare


One of the leading children's academic health care facilities in the world.


The hospital's neonatal intensive care unit experienced an unexpected increase in infant deaths over a short period of time. When a virus or bacteria was suspected, the hospital quickly executed a crisis management plan.

Strategy and Plan:

Working with hospital leadership, N&A developed a strategy to notify all key audiences while at the same time preventing any news media leaks. This included notification to federal and state health authorities, referral sources, families of the deceased children, and potentially affected families. Simultaneously, an intense investigation was undertaken to identify the virus.


The bacterial cause of the infant deaths was identified and isolated. By reporting the deaths in a measured, responsible fashion, there were no instances of sensationalized over-reporting or tabloid headlines. The hospital emerged with its superb reputation intact and no litigation was forthcoming. The management of this issue was lauded in the health care industry as a textbook example of how to communicate in a crisis.