Physician viewpoint: How to treat celebrity patients

Caring for celebrity patients poses unique challenges for hospitals when it comes to patient safety, two leaders from Los Angeles-based Cedars Sinai Medical Center wrote in an op-ed published Nov. 14 in JAMA Surgery.

"The high-profile patient can inadvertently disrupt the ability to provide routine care as a result of his or her expectations and demands, the effect of his or her social status on caregivers, or as a result of the measures taken to protect his or her privacy," said Michael Nurok, MD, PhD, medical director of Mount Sinai's cardiac surgery intensive care unit, and Bruce Gewertz, MD, chair of the hospital's department of surgery.

Drs. Nurok and Gewertz said care teams must try their best to follow standard procedures when caring for a high-profile patient and treat him or her like any other patient. Physicians should also fight the temptation to "overdo care" with unnecessary testing and procedures.

"To maximize safety, care for the high-profile patient should occur where it is usually delivered," they wrote, which means avoiding "VIP suites."

Protecting a high-profile patient's privacy is also important. The physicians recommend creating a formal checklist to ensure all privacy procedures are being followed throughout the care journey. Hospitals' media teams should also be prepared to respond to media inquiries if news of the patient's hospitalization breaks.

"While adopting these procedures for any single patient may feel different, it is important to recognize that the principles are identical to those of the care provided to all patients," Drs. Nurok and Gewertz concluded. "As each of us would expect for ourselves, our family, and our friends, we must provide a secure and private medical experience that allows all patients to receive the care they deserve."

More articles on healthcare quality:
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CHS Pennsylvania hospital addresses 19 health violations found in surprise visit
Physicians who have patient contact should have to get flu shot, most physicians say

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