“VIP Syndrome” Could Become a Very Important Problem

April 13, 2016 | Strategic Insights for Health System


​With wealthy and influential individuals becoming an increasing source of revenue for hospitals across the country, employees are occasionally finding it difficult to effectively do their jobs while avoiding giving special treatment to certain patients or breaking hospital policies. An April 3, 2016, article in the Boston Globe told of a patient with ties to Middle Eastern royalty whose long-term stay in a Massachusetts hospital led to several instances of staff members breaching protocol. The man, who was commonly addressed as "a prince," was diagnosed with a drug-resistant infection but found it "off-putting" for staffers to approach him while wearing the required protective gowns, and so an exception was made, the Globe said. The prince's personal aides were permitted to administer routine medicine to him, and there were concerns that hospital staff had overprescribed painkillers for him. Additionally, the prince gave thousands of dollars in gratuities to staff members, who said they turned over the envelopes of money to their managers. All this aroused the concern of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, who cited the hospital for ignoring several of its own policies.

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