nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
See here for more discussion.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Doctors Can't Get Federal Malpractice Coverage For Volunteer Work To The Underserved

A bill passed by the House (again) is stalled in the Senate by trial lawyer lobbyists.

For years, both the federal government and doctor groups have been asking to be included under the Federal Tort Claims Act for volunteer work in clinics that provide medical care to the underserved.  Once again, powerful interest groups have influenced Senators to sit on the bill.
"One factor is that a number of states have adopted laws limiting liability or capping awards for non-economic damages under the FTCA, making the expansion to CHC volunteers unpopular with a group hugely influential on Capitol Hill: trial lawyers.

“It’s just too difficult to move things that [the trial lawyers] don’t like,” Hobson said.
The American Trial Lawyers Association did not return a call requesting comment Friday." (The Hill, July 24)
I've considered joining or opening a free clinic in my area several times over the last few years--I have time available, and can do primary care--but I always come up against the cost.  I can't work for free, and pay $30,000 in malpractice insurance to do it.  I've even thought of just doing it without coverage, telling the patients that there will be no recourse to a large financial award, if they're unhappy with my performance.  If they can't accept that, then they should go somewhere else.  I've never been sued in 30 years, so this puts me in the minority, and I consider myself competent.

In Texas, they can't take your home or your car.  I don't have any other property, and not much in savings, so  that wouldn't be a big loss.  I don't know if my retirement pay would be affected if successfully sued.

In any case, I can't convince myself that it's a safe thing to do.

But, just in case you were in any doubt as to why tort reform, which has been accomplished in most other health care systems, can't get a leg up, this is more evidence that it's the trial lawyers.  Disgraceful.

Doc D


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