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Health Law Blog

Hospitals Pay Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars to Consultants, Public Auditor Finds

November 24, 2010

Recent reports of our public hospitals paying consultants hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees is not simply disturbing from the point of view of the appropriate use of the public health care dollars. It is particularly disturbing in view of the fact that many hospitals ask our medical leaders to undertake onerous, stressful, 24/7 positions as Chiefs of various departments (including emergency departments) in return for compensation that can only be described as insulting. The ongoing justification for the low remuneration offered by many hospitals is the purported lack of funds.

In some busy community hospitals the belief seems to be that Chiefs of Emergency Departments should occupy the position for salary stipends prorated to two days per week. This completely overlooks the fiduciary duty that goes with such a job. For example, Chiefs of Emergency Departments are expected to cover for staff, by taking calls for those who cannot do so as a result of sickness or unexpected absence. The fact that the Chief may have already worked 60 or 70 hours that week is immaterial. Similarly, if the Department is overcrowded or is not processing patients appropriately in the middle of the night, the Chief is expected to go in. The administrators and the consultants are all entitled to go home.

It’s time the Chiefs of our hospitals worked together as a team; this should involve mandatory disclosure by each hospital of what is spent on consultants and what those consulting fees cover. This disclosure should be a prerequisite for Chiefs accepting remuneration for their leadership, supervision and the onerous responsibility of delivering timely accessible patient care.

Testimonials

Working with Tracey as closely as I have for the last 27 years, I am in a position to comment on her speaking expertise and why she would add considerable value to any lecture, presentation or seminar. I have not only heard her present, but I have also presented with her as co-presenter. Tracey is one of those rare individuals that can create buzz and excitement as soon as she walks in the room and starts to speak. In my opinion, that’s exactly what you want at a presentation: “buzz”. You want people excited and that’s what Tracey delivers. Her presentation style is dynamic and alive and is NOT just someone reading PowerPoint slides. Once any presentation is complete, a leading indicator of the presentation’s success is the number of questions and participation from the audience. In Tracey’s presentations, the audience is so engaged that the question and discussion period will likely need to be cut off.

Stephen R. Binder, B.A. , C.A. Partner, Grant Thornton LLP Personal and business accountant and advisor since 1985

Tracey Tremayne-Lloyd Health Law