Let the Record Reflect I No Longer Practice

By Guest Author, Sarah Easterling, Telluride Patient Safety Roundtable Health Science Attendee, 2013

-Previously posted on Transparent Health

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.


One Comment on “Let the Record Reflect I No Longer Practice”

  1. Telluride Patient Safety Summer Camp is about transformation, transformation of individuals who make up the systems that we need to change. With advocates like Sarah, we can do that. We can reach for zero error, zero harm. It is a mindset, and we are making progress by providing the tools and the mutual support!!

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