Unless you are a brand new health care entity or are currently “between lawyers,” you already work with lawyers and consultants who do what we do. Sometimes, these existing relationships create unnecessarily high barriers that prevent clients from getting the legal help they may need.

Clients are understandably reluctant to consider endangering these long-standing, delicate working relationships. On the other side of the table, no lawyer or firm relishes the idea of relinquishing even the smallest client assignment. In-house counsel are also occasionally reluctant to turn to outside help out of concern that it somehow diminishes their value and threatens their employment.

We work very hard not to threaten those relationships. We regularly work with hospitals and health insurance companies that enjoy healthy, established working ties with their in-house attorneys, other outside counsel and health care consultants. Because of the limited scope of our work, we do not seek to invade their domains by trying to provide the broad range of services they do, like tax, litigation, employment law and corporate services. Rather, we seek to supplement the work of other professionals in our narrow pursuit of medical staff assistance. When our work is done, we leave – leaving these professionals to continue to provide the vast bulk of their services.

In-House Counsel

Most of our work has been performed for entities with able in-house lawyers. Why turn to us then? The biggest reason is time. The many demands of in-house lawyering – including compliance, corporate governance, general risk management, licensure and business law to name only a few – leave less time to devote to medical staff affairs. Many medical staff matters can be quite time consuming, making it difficult to discharge all jobs well.

Lack of experience can also make an in-house job harder. Without a base of experience, drafting simple medical staff documents, for example, that take into account all federal and state laws, regulations and accreditation body requirements can drain in-house counsel of valuable time and energy.

As an external resource, we are able to free in-house counsel to perform their many other responsibilities. At the same time, we keep in-house counsel informed throughout our work and afford counsel regular opportunities to make significant decisions along the way. Consistent with our philosophy, one of our goals is to make in-house counsel look good and smart for having hired us to help.

External Counsel

Outside law firms, particularly those without medical staff health care practices, have much to gain by looking to us to help their clients with medical staff guidance. We stand ready to help other lawyers and firms who lack either the experience or manpower.

Even firms with health care law practices may require additional assistance because of an occasional conflict of interest. In physician hearings, for example, it would be inappropriate for hospital counsel to advise both the hospital and the hearing panel. We have often served as counsel to the hearing panel, to ensure fairness and promote immunity. This frees hospital counsel to actively pursue presentation of the hospital’s case before the panel.

Health Care Consulting Firms

Health care consultants that help with strategic planning, organizational effectiveness and survey readiness have also found us to be a valuable adjunct resource. Consulting services often require the creation of documents and processes that require the services of a lawyer. We have worked closely with consultants over the years to assist their clients in matters such as medical staff bylaws revision, credentialing and peer review process creation and revision, medical staff leadership restructurings and general legal assistance on document and process confidentiality. This assistance, often rendered in anticipation of Joint Commission or other accreditation surveys, is usually part of a larger readiness effort aimed at maximizing the entity’s compliance score.