"The Ronan Report" provides insight about the activities at the Western Maryland Health System in Cumberland, Maryland, and about the changes taking place in healthcare today from a CEO's perspective.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Medical Malpractice

I was in Charleston, SC, last week for a meeting and, coincidently, my son-in-law's inpatient stay for his last chemotherapy treatment.  As a side, he was successfully discharged on Saturday morning and will hopefully never have to return to the "Cancer Floor" at MUSC.

On Friday evening after visiting Terrell in the hospital, Pamela and I needed to have dinner.  Terrell and Jessica suggested Fig, supposedly "THE" restaurant in Charleston and Charleston has many fabulous places to eat.  They suggested that we see if we could get two seats at the bar since there is a long lead time to get a reservation for a table.  So, we did and we were successful.  Shortly after we arrived, a gentleman arrived by himself and sat next to me at the bar.  He seemed like a nice guy and we started talking about food and travel and exchanged some recommendations of our favorite restaurants in Charleston and other cities.  

As our conversation continued, I asked what he did for a living and he said that he was an attorney.  A short time later, I asked what type of law did he practice?  He responded that he was a medical malpractice attorney. I jokingly yelled to the bartender, "Check please!" He then asked what I did; I told him and we laughed.  It was a fascinating conversation as he told me that medical liability is by far the most interesting and challenging law to practice and that it also pays very well (don't I know it).  

I was able to tell him about our approach at WMHS after we learn that harm to a patient has occurred.  I explained that we inform the patient of our error; apologize; meet with the family; provide the necessary support to all who are involved, including the caregivers; maintain open communications; waive all related fees and, when appropriate, offer financial support.  Our approach is to get out in front of the harm that we caused as soon as we verify that it has occurred and assess the situation to ensure that it doesn't recur. During our subsequent conversation, my new friend gave me the impression that, thankfully for him, most hospitals and physicians don't take that same approach.  

It was an interesting evening to say the least, from the build-your-own Manhattan menu, to the food that was so different and unique, to the best bartender by whom I have ever been served, to my new friend.  An interesting as well as enjoyable evening, especially when I can talk about the very progressive approaches that we are taking at WMHS.

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