After years of seeing her father work as a lawyer, the last thing Lynn Hardacre wanted to be when she grew up was a lawyer. However, toward the end of her studies at The Ohio State University in Columbus, she realized it was a pathway to merge her interests together in one career, leading her to become associate general counsel at University Hospitals.
“It was a way to combine my interest in certain topics like social justice and medical ethics with my ability to talk a lot and my enjoyment of talking in front of people,” she said.
Her curiosity with medical ethics began to sprout while taking a bio-medical ethics program at Hawken School in Chester Township. She was taking the class when the AIDS epidemic was coming to the forefront and many cases she studied revolved around it.
“We spent some time at the Cleveland Clinic on their grand rounds dealing with the ethics on treating AIDS patients and disclosures about AIDS,” she said. “I found it so fascinating that I actually continued taking classes on it in college and was the editor of the Journal of Law and Health when I was in law school.”
She then worked as a plaintiff attorney at Sindell, Lowe & Guidubaldi, now Lowe, Eklund and Wakefield, and spent eight years at Medical Protective in Cleveland, which insures doctors across Northeast Ohio.
Hardacre’s largest client at the time was the University Hospitals faculty account and when it moved to be self-insured, she was asked to join the UH team in 2004, leading to her current role. Any case from medical malpractice and employment to government investigation filed against the hospital goes through her department.
She said her most satisfying cases are ones she and her team can learn from and that lead to an institutional change based on learning from something that went wrong.
“I’ve developed in my department a ‘lessons learned’ program, so after a case has been litigated and resolved, we will often go back to the clinical people – back to the doctors, the nurses, the respiratory therapists, anyone involved in the case — and talk about the clinical lessons we learned,” she said. “What could we do better? What mistakes did we make? What did we do right?”
In addition to litigation, Hardacre also deals with ethical decisions in tandem with the hospital’s ethics department, where she said her Jewish teachings have played a role in her thought process.
“It definitely colors your thought process,” she said. “You know you have to abide by the law and policy as well as what’s medically and ethically correct, but when you’re dealing with issues like end of life, tough issues the ethics committee comes to us about. ... I think a lot of the teachings that went on when I was young and went to temple have definitely come into how I help make valued decisions.”