The Doctor’s Advocate | Third Quarter 2013
Ohio Physician Advisory Board Update
The Doctors Company’s Ohio Physician Advisory Board recently convened in Columbus. Present were physicians from various specialties, including cardiology, internal medicine, neurology, ob/gyn, pathology, primary care, and pulmonology. A local defense attorney and representatives from The Doctors Company also contributed to the meeting.
Education and Discussion
Rich Cahill, vice president and associate general counsel, led discussions about statements of compassion and condolence and about the use of physician extenders.
The discussions began with an outline of adverse event disclosure and the potential ramifications of nondisclosure. The group reviewed recent data covering the evolving physician-patient relationship, physician perceptions and patient expectations, and state and federal laws.
We also learned about a 10-point Harvard University program that includes steps for acknowledging the event, expressing regret, investigating and identifying the cause, implementing changes to prevent reoccurrence, and providing emotional support. We ended this discussion with a review of the Ohio apology statute.
The group also discussed the rapidly growing use of physician extenders (PEs) and how the use of PEs will likely expand even further with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. We examined data for physician assistants and registered nurse practitioners in Ohio and concluded our discussion with a list of recommendations to reduce the potential risks of using PEs.
Attorney Doug Leak of the defense firm Roetzel & Andress led a discussion on closed claims that focused on a claim involving a patient who was injured in a surgical fire. The plaintiff’s attorney made a public showing of the patient’s injuries, and the insured’s practice suffered as a result. A lower court found in favor of the plaintiff, with punitive damages also awarded. On the advice of The Doctors Company’s claims team, the insured appealed the case and won. The case has created a precedent in state law that will affect future legal decisions.