Work Carefully with Counsel to Ensure Best Results, Healthcare Risk Management

In an article published on Feb. 1, 2018 in Healthcare Risk Management, John Ivins encourages health care risk managers to develop close relationships with their hospital or heath system’s in-house counsel: “Keep in mind that a health system’s in-house counsel may be responsible for multiple facilities and all the related issues, and unlike outside counsel may be unable to give you as much hand-holding,” he told the publication in a recent interview. 

Outside counsel sees the risk manager as a client and work to make him or her happy, whereas in-house counsel has other risk managers and system-wide concerns that will necessitate a more streamlined interaction. “That means communication with in-house counsel should be complete and clear,” Ivins explains. “The problem you’re bringing to the attention of in-house counsel may be the biggest problem your hospital faces at the moment, but the health system counsel may have an inbox full of similar problems.” 

Ivins also reminds risk managers that they cannot assume information is privileged when talking to in-house counsel. “There is case law that draws a distinction between when in-house counsel is giving legal advice and when they are giving business advice,” Ivins notes. “Before you put everything in an email, try to make a determination whether it might be some sort of business advice that might not be protected,” he advises, highlighting a recent case in which the plaintiff wanted to depose the in-house counsel because they had discussed an issue that later was determined to be a business matter and not a legal concern. You may read the full article here.