A Maryland attorney has been indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice for an alleged scheme seeking a multi-million dollar payoff by the University of Maryland Medical System. Attorney Stephen Snyder is alleged by the government to have proposed a sham “consulting agreement” with the hospital, which would pay him $25 million, in order to keep secret some alleged facts about the hospital that he had learned in the course of representing a patient’s family.

Readers might wonder why our blog that focuses on patient safety and medical malpractice would write about this. Here’s why. We believe that attorneys who represent patients in medical malpractice lawsuits have an ethical duty to look out for the public’s interest, not just the narrow interests of themselves or even of their clients. That means that when a lawyer finds out in the course of representing someone that a hospital has a big patient safety problem, the lawyer should not try to personally profit from that knowledge by keeping quiet.

The Snyder indictment involves allegations about the organ transplant program at UMMS. (The building for the program is shown in the photo on the right.)