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The Doctor’s Advocate | Second Quarter 2016
An Ounce of Prevention
The Doctor’s Advocate | Second Quarter 2016

An Ounce of Prevention

Specialty Advisory Boards: Bringing Together Expertise

by Robin Diamond, JD, RN, Senior Vice President, Department of Patient Safety and Risk Management, and Miranda Felde, MHA, CPHRM, Assistant Vice President, Department of Patient Safety and Risk Management

We value the knowledge and expertise shared by our specialty advisory board members. We invite experts—representatives from best-in-class healthcare organizations around the country—to participate in discussions that help shape our approach to protecting healthcare practitioners and organizations. Our specialty advisory boards contribute to the development of patient safety and risk management resources and enhance our understanding of emerging claims trends.

Board Composition and History

We established the specialty advisory boards—which focus on anesthesia, hospital medicine, obstetrics, and orthopedics—to enrich our understanding of each specialty. The physicians and healthcare practitioners who participate represent solo practices, large medical groups, hospitals, healthcare systems, and academic centers.

The goal of each advisory board is to provide insights into the current risks and practice issues affecting how the specialty delivers care. The meetings provide forums for healthcare leaders to exchange ideas and identify ways to advance the practice of good medicine.

Developing Patient Safety and Risk Management Resources

The specialty advisory board members assist the Patient Safety and Risk Management Department by identifying trends in their specialties, comparing best practices, examining risk mitigation techniques, and designing patient safety resources and initiatives that ultimately support our mission to advance the practice of good medicine. The paragraphs below highlight a few collaborative efforts.

Anesthesia Advisory Board

Members of the Anesthesia Advisory Board discussed new root cause analysis guidelines for healthcare organizations that challenge teams “to identify and implement sustainable systems-based actions to improve the safety of care.”1 These new guidelines, called RCA2—RCA squared, with the second “A” meaning action—provide important resources and are recommended for healthcare organizations and any physician specialty.

Hospitalist Advisory Board

One of the first projects undertaken by the Hospitalist Advisory Board was creating an interactive guide to help hospitalists identify risks and evaluate processes related to care delivered in a hospital environment. The guide focuses on risk areas that include communication with patients and among practitioners, coordination of care, medication management, and building reliable systems to reduce the impact of human factors. The Interactive Guide for Hospitalists is available at

OB Advisory Board

The OB Advisory Board led a project to create a simulation program to help healthcare practitioners develop necessary technical skills, teamwork skills, and clinical systems to be used in response to catastrophic obstetrical events. Simulating high-risk acute delivery scenarios allows healthcare practitioners to learn and test their skills with a primary goal of achieving the best possible patient outcome.

Orthopedic Advisory Board

With an increased focus on optimal outcomes and the shift from fee-for-service reimbursement to pay-for-performance, the Orthopedic Advisory Board explored metrics for measuring physician quality. Many quality reporting websites exist, some of which can be biased against physicians. Creating a physician-focused quality program allows healthcare organizations to proactively measure quality and communicate their results in a controlled and positive way.

Benefits to Our Members

Our advisory board members also share their frontline expertise and perspectives in other ways. Here are some recent examples:

  • Dr. John Nelson discussed our Hospitalist Closed Claims Study at the annual conference for the Society of Hospital Medicine. Dr. Nelson, a national expert on hospital medicine practice management, is our study spokesperson. Read the study at
  • Dr. Susan Mann (OB Advisory Board) and Dr. Kay Kirkpatrick (Orthopedic Advisory Board) collaborated on a webinar presented to members on teamwork training. Dr. Mann, a contributor to the development of TeamSTEPPS®, and Dr. Kirkpatrick, a master trainer for TeamSTEPPS, imparted practical approaches that healthcare professionals can use to implement teamwork training in their clinical practice environment.
  • We communicate key advisory board discussions through our active media channels as they occur. During our recent Hospitalist Advisory Board meeting, Dr. Thomas McIlraith shared his personal experience and the action steps he has taken and recommends to improve the patient experience: “The patient satisfaction disconnect arises from the fact that physicians live in their cognitive memory, while patients live in their emotional memory.”2 Dr. McIlraith recommends that physicians “stop talking and listen, sit down and get cozy, and tell them and show them you care.”

Endorsed Program Partnerships

In addition to our specialty advisory board meeting schedule, we also partner with the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons® (ASPS®) for twice yearly meetings. Both organizations exclusively endorse The Doctors Company as their medical malpractice insurer.

Each organization appoints members to its respective committee: the ACC Board of Trustees Medical Professional Liability Insurance Committee Working Group and the ASPS Professional Liability Insurance and Patient Safety Committee.

We work together to analyze claims, present findings, and increase program participation. Each meeting provides a valuable opportunity to discuss new and emerging medications, therapies, and procedures—vital updates that keep our underwriting, claims, and patient safety services at the forefront for our members.

For more information regarding our specialty advisory boards, please contact the Department of Patient Safety and Risk Management at or (800) 421-2368, extension 1243.



  1. Root cause analysis guidelines funded by The Doctors Company Foundation [press release]. Napa, CA: The Doctors Company; June 16, 2015.
  2. McIlraith T. Cognitive, emotional memory disconnect impacts patient satisfaction. The Hospitalist. September 2015.


Additional Resources

National Patient Safety Foundation. RCA2: improving root cause analyses and actions to prevent harm. Published January 2016.

Simulation training may improve quality of patient care [press release]. Napa, CA: The Doctors Company; March 19, 2013.

Physician scorecard helps to improve practice quality [press release]. Napa, CA: The Doctors Company; December 17, 2013.


The Doctor’s Advocate is published by The Doctors Company to advise and inform its members about loss prevention and insurance issues.

The guidelines suggested in this newsletter are not rules, do not constitute legal advice, and do not ensure a successful outcome. They attempt to define principles of practice for providing appropriate care. The principles are not inclusive of all proper methods of care nor exclusive of other methods reasonably directed at obtaining the same results.

The ultimate decision regarding the appropriateness of any treatment must be made by each healthcare provider in light of all circumstances prevailing in the individual situation and in accordance with the laws of the jurisdiction in which the care is rendered.

The Doctor’s Advocate is published quarterly by Corporate Communications, The Doctors Company. Letters and articles, to be edited and published at the editor’s discretion, are welcome. The views expressed are those of the letter writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or official policy of The Doctors Company. Please sign your letters, and address them to the editor.


The Doctor’s Advocate

Second Quarter 2016

Director's Forum
Obesity: A Common Comorbidity in Malpractice Claims

An Ounce of Prevention
Specialty Advisory Boards: Bringing Together Expertise

Government Relations Report
Every Aspect of the Litigation Process Is Subject to Legislative Action

Case Studies
What to Expect from Litigation: Dr. Wuest’s Perspective

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Industry and Company News

Tribute Plan Insert: Second Quarter 2016

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