In-House Counsel
In-house counsel try to serve the interests of the institution and of the individuals in that institution. They will do their best to protect everyone associated with the institution who is not involved in wrongdoing. However, when there is a conflict, in- house counsel only have one client: the institution that employs them. While there is some learned debate on what this means in the context of the CEO, the board of directors, and the stockholders, for everyone else it is clear that the hospital or medical care institution’s attorney does not represent their interests. Thus a nurse interviewed about an incident by the hospital counsel could not claim attorney client privilege for the information given the attorney, even if the attorney was going to use it in a way that harms the nurse. The nurse must also be aware that the attorney’s advice is intended to protect the institution, not his or her interests, if they conflict with the institution’s interests.
With the growth of criminal law investigations and prosecutions in medical care, the conflict between medical care practitioners and in- house counsel becomes much more serious. The attorney–client privilege is much more important in criminal matters than in civil cases. If a medical care practitioner is concerned about being the target of a criminal investigation, he or she should get a personal attorney, rather than relying on in-house counsel.