Quick Reference Guide

Managing High Profile and Patient Care Conflict Situations

A guide for hospital public relations, legal and facility executives
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Among the most difficult patient care situations a hospital can face are those that surround end-of-life decisions, particularly when there is a high-profile patient or serious disagreement between the patient or patient’s family and the health care team. These dynamics can create conflict, and in some circumstances lead to media interest or lawsuits.

High-profile events may generate unusual activity and media coverage in and around hospitals. Having thorough communications and operational plans will benefit not only the hospital, but patients, their families, and the community at large.

This guide aims to help hospital communications and facility executives navigate complex, high-profile patient cases, especially those that involve the diagnosis of “brain death” or California’s End of Life Option Act. This guide isn’t designed to tell you what to say. Rather, it provides key information to help frame your thinking and responses, and identifies issues to consider when your hospital is facing a crisis situation or high-profile event.


  • Pertinent Hospital Policies
  • Developing a Comprehensive Crisis Management and Communications Plan
  • Patient Privacy and Legal Considerations are Critical When Dealing with the Media
  • Examples of High Profile/Controversial Patient Care Cases
  • A Crisis Management and Communications Plan Checklist

16 pages (March 2017)