Resolving Disputes Between Physicians & Nurses How to get the most from ADR in the Health Care Industry - HOW TO GET THE MOST FROM ADR IN THE HEALTH CARE INDUSTRY - Dispute Resolution Journal - Vol. 56, No. 2
The author is currently attending Portland State University where she is completing her Masters in Public Health and Social Work. Health care disputes are decidedly difficult. They often involve technical and scientific expertise and affect complex human relations and emotions. In some instances, the difference between succeeding and failing to resolve a dispute in a timely manner can mean life or death for the patient involved. It is within this context that author Lisa Brannack discusses the benefits of ADR processes, particularly mediation. Her article presents hypothetical scenarios involving patients, family members, nurses, and doctors to show how mediation and other ADR methods can be applied effectively in a medical setting. She also discusses the potential of ADR in addressing ethical issues, including this thorny question: how should family members and health care providers deal with a seriously ill patient’s desire to die?
Originally from Dispute Resolution Journal
Conflict seems to be present in all human relationships and in all societies. In the health care setting, solutions health care providers seek are those that allow them to satisfy both their own and their patients’ interests and minimize costs. Take the following hypothetical case involving the Fairview Medical Clinic and a husband-and-wife team of doctors. It all started three years ago when Dr. Simpson, director of the Fairview Medical Clinic, one of the few medical service providers in a small rural town, was seeking two physicians to fill open positions on his staff. After several months of extensive and difficult recruiting, he hired two doctors, John and Mary Whittamore, to fill the respective positions of pediatrician and gynecologist. The fact that the doctors were married did not create a problem at the time they were hired.
Fairview Clinic liked to keep its doctors and generally paid them well for their services. The clinic was also concerned about maintaining its patient load, and required each doctor joining the practice to sign a five-year contract detailing what he or she was to be paid and what conditions would apply should the contract be broken by either party. One of these conditions was a no-competition clause stating that should a doctor choose to leave the clinic prior to the expiration of the contract, he or she could not practice medicine in the town or county where the Fairview Clinic was located without paying a penalty. This clause was designed to protect the clinic from competition and to prohibit a doctor from joining the staff, building up a practice, and then leaving with his or her patients to start a private competitive practice before the term of the contract had expired.
When John and Mary joined the Fairview Clinic staff, they both signed the contract and initialed all clauses. Both doctors performed well in their respective jobs and were respected by their colleagues and patients. Unfortunately, their personal life did not fare so well. The Whittamores’ marriage steadily declined as soon as they began working at Fairview. Their arguments increased, and the amount of tension between them mounted to the point that they wanted to get a divorce. Since both wanted to be near their two young children, they agreed to continue living in the same town.
Every physician at the Fairview clinic had a specialty and they all relied on consultations with their colleagues. Thus, some interaction between the estranged couple was inevitable. Over time the hostility between the couple grew to such a point that the Whittamores decided one of them should leave the clinic, for their own good and that of the other clinic staff. They agreed that John, a pediatrician, would have an easier time finding patients and that he should be the one to go.