WHY YOU NEED TO KNOW HER:
Because Kimberly K. Bocell may be the reason the surgeon who once saved your life can one day save another. When complaints are lodged against practitioners, the 39-year-old defense attorney is happy to argue their cases before a jury or the Texas Medical Board or the hospitals where the procedures took place. These are her people.
Not every attorney is willing to go into the bowels of a hospital’s “peer review” system, where a board of physicians investigates complaints and doles out its own verdict.
Says Bocell: “Texas hospitals are incredibly protected legally in conducting the peer review process. It’s highly confidential.”
The discovery process can be limited and sometimes nonexistent, she says. Hospitals can suspend or withdraw a physician’s privileges, which often has a crippling effect on his or her ability to practice elsewhere.
Bocell, who became a partner at Dallas law firm Chamblee Ryan in 2012, is one of the few local lawyers who works these cases.
To understand why she does, flash back 15 years, when she stalked the operating rooms of the trauma ICU at what’s now Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth. She was a nurse then, less than a year out of Texas Christian University. “I’ve seen how hard you work to take care of your patients, how important each patient is, how much sacrifice you make,” she says.
So, now she’s giving back. Everyone, she contends, needs an advocate. She evaluates the facts of each case. She’ll find independent experts to defend the work. If she discovers the practitioner was negligent or made a mistake, she’ll work them through the settlement process.
Come to think of it, she says, nursing and malpractice defense aren’t all that different: “You have to want to be the best expert in whatever particular area, whether that’s medicine or law, to be able to help your client—whether it’s a patient or a defendant—get through a very difficult situation that they usually know nothing about.”