Sideline Risk Potentials for M.D.s & Board Members

A recent case involving a county-run nursing home in New Jersey brings up an important potential risk for physicians. In that facility, the subcontracted administrator, an employee of Innova, had withheld status reports from the supervising Freeholder board members for at least six months. Innova’s administrator, John Rosolia, defended that the facility was newly added, and that accounting systems had to be installed, etc. The board’s chairman found it inexcusable that they not be kept abreast on at least a monthly basis, and went on to say that when they request a report, they expect it within five days. They’re entirely correct in doing so. The county’s administrator, Earl Gage said “As far as injuries, I don’t know,” and then added, “If there were something serious, I suspect we would have heard about.” We certainly hope so, for all of your sakes.

The situation is a disaster waiting to happen. If there was an injury, the Freeholders, the administrators, and any patient’s physician would most certainly all be sued and found to be at least partially at risk. There are two concerns here. Firstly, for the physician, that he could be held liable for having placed the patient in that facility, and for having left the patient in a dangerous facility. If the physician is in some sort of supervisory position associated with that facility, of course, it could be much worse.

The second is that one’s Professional Malpractice Insurance may or may not provide coverage in such a situation. The Freeholder are certainly at risk, and may not carry Medical Malpractice insurance of any kind. While there may have been adequate supervision within the nursing home, it was most certainly not something that the responsible Freeholders could testify to. To be in a position of responsibility and yet be kept in the dark is an unacceptable situation which must be remedied immediately. That this circumstance went on for more than six months, though, is inexcusable on the part of the Freeholders as well.

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