Children’s Hospital Oakland: End-of-Life Dilemmas
(9 pages of text)
Case (Pub Mat)
After suffering severe complications from a relatively minor surgery at a California children’s hospital in early December 2013, a young teenage girl was declared brain dead. However, to her family, the girl seemed responsive and they refused to accept the hospital’s statement that their daughter was deceased. The hospital arranged visits with social workers and other staff in an attempt to help the family understand that their daughter was dead and, after three days, informed the family of its plan to move the teen’s body to the morgue. The case quickly became a nationwide media event. The family acquired a noted lawyer to ensure the teen received the care the family thought was needed, while the hospital hired a public relations firm to become the hospital’s voice in the issue, a move that might have exacerbated the problem. With such a complex and tragic crisis that rapidly unfolded, should the hospital have a policy in the event that family members disagree with an official medical diagnosis? How could the hospital have managed the aftermath of the teen’s death and prevented a media embarrassment?
This case study is suitable for MBA, executive MBA, and masters of science students.
The teaching objectives include the following:
- To learn how organizational leaders can speak directly to a controversy or crisis, especially as it gains publicity;
- To understand the value of community relations for a pediatric hospital, but more generally, for any customer-facing service organization; and
- To appreciate the value of organizational apologies, including the circumstances when they are appropriate and when they may harm the organization.
Health Care Services
United States, Large, 2013 - 2014
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