As it was, I didn’t feel great about my time as a defense attorney. I enjoyed being a lawyer in the most utopian sense of the word: I enjoyed being an advocate and an adviser to healthcare professionals. I didn’t enjoy hanging a plaintiff’s dirty laundry out to dry. I didn’t enjoy burying someone in motions to buy time or meet my billables. I didn’t enjoy working at a law firm.
I got out of litigating because my work didn’t mean anything. By the time I was involved, something had already gone grievously wrong, and someone was angry (and injured) enough to bring suit. I worked the case to a resolution, but that didn’t mean anything either. I billed the bejesus out of it, distributed the insurance money accordingly, and went about my day. I always wanted to go back to the hospital or the provider and say, “Let’s make sure this never happens again!” But, it wasn’t my place. Three years ago, I was fortunate to be in touch with Dr. McDonald who advised that if I wanted to make a difference in a risk management/patient safety capacity, I should go to nursing school.
And now, here I am. One week away from my NCLEX, and two weeks from working in the risk management department I’ve admired for years. After my first day, I was excited to be here, despite feeling winded after three flights of stairs. After yesterday, I couldn’t be more ready to start working next month. I still maintain that at some level, I helped healthcare providers at a time of personal crisis. But now I also see what I might have unintentionally done to families, and I wholeheartedly apologize for that.
The Telluride Patient Safety Educational Roundtable (#TPSER9) is giving me a new perspective. Patients and physicians are no longer plaintiffs and defendants. I work as an advocate and adviser to both: By working directly within healthcare (and not as outside counsel), I will educate providers on why transparency is crucial, support providers when they are hesitant about disclosing, and maintain open lines of communication with patients.