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Issues in the News: Medical Practice Crisis Management


Certain events, as we’ve seen recently, can have an effect on the personal safety of doctors, as well as harm their business and personal assets.

A mass shooting and record flooding dominated this week’s headlines, highlighting crisis management every medical practice owner must consider before disaster strikes.

We take a temporary break from our series on year-end tax and financial planning pitfalls for doctors, to address several timely issues that involve both your physical safety and protecting your business and personal assets.

The Oregon Shooting

A tragic act of this kind presents several different crises that a physician may have to deal with; the actual active threats to life and safety from a shooter, the loss of a physician, communicating details about the staff and continuity of care after the incident and finally, handling the press and media coverage that will ensue and may associate an otherwise innocent practice with an exceptionally negative incident of some kind.

Self-defense may be involved with this kind of event and we’ve provided guidance on both physical security measures your medical practice should consider and the legal issues involved if you are forced to defend yourself and/or others. In the event your practice is the site of such a tragedy (or worse, if an employee is the shooter, on site or off) you will suddenly find yourself and your practice at the center of relentless media attention that will in the best case be a serious nuisance and distraction and which may close your practice down for an extended period of time in the worst cases. If this does happen, it’s important that you are prepared and proactive in handling the media and the negative association with your practice as we have previously addressed. Finally, if the unthinkable happens and a key member of your practice is somehow a victim of this kind of incident, put some time and thought into a basic continuation plan to ensure your medical practice’s ongoing survival. Many of the most successful practices in the country rely on just one or few key providers, the loss of which would be both economically and morally devastating to the practice.

Physical Threats from Natural Disasters, the East Coast Floods

Residents of South Carolina, which was devastated by flooding this weekend, were fortunate to receive a warning that helped minimize threats to physical safety and allowed for evacuation and other disaster preparation. In a two-part series, I previously covered the proactive legal and financial planning that’s required to financially survive this kind of disaster, including considerations for protecting key legal and financial documents, and the adequate loss coverage you must have place before long a crisis occurs. We then took a look at some basic emergency response planning strategies that most business and families never discuss including technology issues, personal safety, and disaster preparedness. In the event your physical practice is damaged or destroyed by this kind of event knowing how to document your claim will be the next major issue to manage. We’ve provided specific tips on documenting insurance claims and coverage, including your legal rights and responsibilities that I hope you will never have to use, but need to understand now. Be safe out there.

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