Renée Bernard

Renée Bernard

The legal and regulatory climate of medical marijuana continues to cause increased uncertainty and risk for hospital risk managers and the organizations they serve.


Whether or not a state has decriminalized the use of marijuana for a patients or declared use legal for everyone, does not remove the overarching conundrum of the Federal delegation of marijuana as an illegal Schedule I drug alongside other drugs such as PCP and heroin. The tension makes the topic overwhelming, but the risks impact too many stakeholders for hospitals to ignore the need for clear guidelines.


Medical Marijuana: Perspectives and Considerations in a Clinical Practice

Four years ago, The Risk Authority (TRA) recognized that the political and legal issues around marijuana would continue to evolve in complexity. Realizing the benefit and value of education on the topic toward establishing basic patient care guidelines, TRA initiated a discussion with legal counsel, hospital administrators, clinical leadership, including physicians, nursing, and pharmacy.


The result was one of the first hospital policy guidelines for managing patient expectations for the use of medical marijuana in the clinical setting. You can download our webinar and white paper on the subject “Medical Marijuana: Perspectives and Considerations in a Clinical Practice“:

Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana: Perspectives and Considerations in a Clinical Practice


Risk Managers and Medical Marijuana

As Healthcare Risk Management Week approaches this June, consider ways to raise awareness of the value of the risk management profession.  Healthcare risk managers can assist their organizations better by collaborating with appropriate administrative, clinical and legal leadership to establish at minimum guidelines for hospital staff to follow should they encounter a patient who requests to use medical marijuana as part of their inpatient care plan.


Understanding the risks involved, the goal of such guidelines can be limited as follows and still provide risk mitigation and benefit for all involved:


  1. Maintain awareness of state laws in relation to Federal law and the ongoing discussions in the industry.
  2. Review insurance policy terms to avoid conflict in any proposed processes.
  3. Establish guidelines with a discussion framework in order to ensure that communication with patients on the topic is uniform to the organization -versus statements of personal beliefs and opinions.


By Renée Bernard, JD

Renée is a healthcare risk management professional specializing in developing and applying leading-edge risk management solutions aimed at maximizing safety throughout patient care delivery systems. She currently serves as Assistant Vice President of Risk Management of The Risk Authority at Stanford, and as a director in clinical risk management at Stanford University Medical Center. Her combination of clinical experience and legal expertise is instrumental in providing innovative risk management consultation that effectively reduces risk and highlights opportunities to increase value.