Illinois hospital creates PR plan after hiring neurosurgeon with conduct allegations

Mackenzie Garrity -   Print  |

Former Rockford, Ill.-based OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center CEO David Schertz testified that the hospital drafted a plan to handle the media's questions about a neurosurgeon who was hired after allowing her license to go inactive, according to

OSF Saint Anthony hired Denice Crute, MD, in June 2006. The neurosurgeon is accused of operating on the wrong side of patient. Attorneys for the patient are arguing OSF was negligent in hiring Dr. Crute and are pointing to the public relations plan as evidence.

The hospital created the media plan a month after Dr. Crute was hired. OSF was prepared to answer questions about Dr. Crute's unprofessional conduct allegations. The Colorado Board of Medical Examiners leveled 17 counts of unprofessional conduct against the neurosurgeon in 2005.

In a deal with the board, Dr. Crute admitted to certain allegations and let her medical license expire in September 2005. OSF hired Dr. Crute less than a year later. She had her license re-activated in Illinois.

The media plan lists responses for hospital staff communicating with reporters as well as topics to avoid and why. Here are a few of the responses, as reported by

• "The 'shortage' or scarcity' argument opens us to begin criticized (fairly or unfairly) for 'settling' for a low quality physician. This also feeds into an existing perception among some that the quality of specialty physician practicing in Rockford is less then neighboring metropolitan areas."
• "We may want to avoid the 'complex specialty' argument because wrong-site surgery is considered a basic mistake by the public."
• "We cannot use a 'no harm' argument because one of the four patients (in Colorado) died."

The former CEO said he was unaware of the number of media plans the hospital has created over the past 40 years.

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