Emergency room docblogger Shadowfax gets sued.
What sorts of things will people file medical lawsuits over, when it costs only $10 to do so? Well, there’s failure to take care of a complaint of being 7 1/2 years pregnant. “After the plaintiff’s dismissal, she attempted to sue the judge.” (SymTym, Sept. 29).
Problem: many patients go to hospital emergency rooms “when what they really need is to see or talk to their primary-care doctors”, with resulting high expense and interference with genuine emergency cases. As usual, the legal system’s role is a helpful and constructive one:
Assume a patient calls his doctor about a new symptom. Ideally, after listening on the phone and deciding that it’s probably nothing serious, the doctor arranges an office visit for the next day, offers reassurance, and averts an unnecessary late-night E.R. visit. But doctors don’t get reimbursed for that call. And what if they tell a patient to wait and something bad happens? Then malpractice lawyers have a field day.
(Zachary F. Meisel and Jesse M. Pines, “Medical Examiner: The Allure of the One-Stop Shop”, Slate, Sept. 12).