When the Rubber Hit the Road...
By Catherine M. Hurt, MD
As Chair of the Board of The Mutual, I thought it would be interesting to write about the perspective of a partner insured by The Mutual who had to use their full services. Each of us as partners of Vituity pay our professional liability premium each month and we attend presentations from the Mutual at our sites as well as at regional and partnership meetings. Unfortunately, sometimes a partner is named in a malpractice claim and explores the other aspects of how The Mutual cares for our partners. Chris Burke, MD is one such partner who had a case go all the way to trial. I had the opportunity to talk to him about his case and how The Mutual supported him.
Dr. Burke recounted hearing that he was named in the case when his phone rang at a school event he was attending for one of his kids. He was surprised by the call as he did not even know the patient had experienced a bad outcome. He called The Mutual shortly thereafter to let them know he was named and asked to have the same attorney he had used for a prior case who he had enjoyed working with. The Mutual was able to retain the same attorney and Dr. Burke began his malpractice case journey. He had an early phone discussion with the CMO for The Mutual, Dr. Mark Spiro, who provided emotional support and guidance as someone who had been on this road himself in the past. Dr. Burke had multiple touch points with Dr. Spiro throughout the case for discussions and support.
As it turned out, Dr. Burke was not alone in this case as another Vituity partner had been named as well. He particularly appreciated the effort The Mutual made to support both providers equally in the case. They had one attorney representing them both. Although, Dr. Burke was anxious to get the case over due to the stress of it hanging on, the wheels of justice were slow. Dr. Burke commented that the communication was clear from the attorney as the case proceeded so he knew what the next steps were despite the process taking a long time.
When the time came to decide whether to settle the case or proceed to trial, Dr. Burke felt he received professional and realistic advisement from his attorney, as well as Dr. Spiro, Sally Choy and John Ponce DeLeon at The Mutual. When the decision was made to go to trial, he felt he had the backing of Vituity, The Mutual and a strong attorney on his side. The attorney prepared Dr Burke prior to the trial so Dr. Burke walked into the court room feeling confident about what to expect.
Dr. Burke’s day in court finally came. He felt supported throughout the trial by his attorney as well as staff from The Mutual who were present in the courtroom nearly every day. The case was decided in his and his partner’s favor and although he felt a huge sigh of relief that this case was over, he also felt frustration that this had taken so much time and emotional energy during its resolution. Following completion of the trial, Dr. Burke attended Vituity’s Risk Course sponsored by The Mutual and felt this helped with the emotional aspects of going through the trial and also helped him focus on how to recognize high risk situations in the future. Overall, he felt very well supported by The Mutual through the process and truly appreciated The Mutual’s expertise to guide him through this difficult journey.
Although it is rare that our cases make it to the courtroom, The Mutual understands the necessity of supporting our insured’s needs both professionally and emotionally during this journey and we strive to make this happen.
Katie Hurt, MD
Chair of the Board
The Mutual, RRG