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Treating relatives of lawyers

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14 years 10 months ago #68014 by rs4
i may have posted elsewhere that i have a contract to see medicaid "HMO" patients, a pilot program in our state to look at care in private settings. its been great seeing this different group of patients. I made my own contract, i played hardball on the $, so they pay near what other insurances pay me....the main downside has been the ridiculously stupid admin side of things...

spend more time (after my billing person hits a roadblock as she NEVER has done with any other insurance) trying to get the $ owed me, much less in a timely fashion. I've told them i will stop seeing new medicaid patients if i'm not paid up by the end of Feb...they owe me thousands of dollars from the last half of 2004, AND they kicked a PREGNANT patient off their services for no good reason (I'm still seeing her occasionally and will push them for the $)...she's been stable for almost 2 years and might just need some help managing her bipolar disorder while off meds for her pregnancy.....if she doesn't qualify for this program then WHO does.... her finances hadn't changed....she and i have gotten many different answers about why she was disqualified, none of them make any sense...

don't get me started...like most jobs i've had in medicine, it isn't the patients who are the problem, but the paperwork and admin/systems issues.

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14 years 10 months ago #68015 by JDmom
As an attorney who is now also a pre-med, this is a stunning thread to me. First and foremost, I'd like to extend an olive branch from the lawyers to the doctors. I think it is so sad that two professions that actually have so much in common (having people's wellfare in your hands, handling access to the deepest most personal parts of their lives and handling that in a responsible manner, a desire to make people's lives better, etc.) should be so alienated from one another.

I can certainly understand why many doctors are so sensative about the topic of malpractice attorneys, and I appreciate the fact that many who have posted here have noted that not all attorneys are evil ambulance chasers.

But I bring a different perspective to this debate because I have personally experienced the devestation of being refused care because I was married to a lawyer.

Since I always assure doctors up front that I do not do medical malpractice (I'm a corporate, criminal, and civil rights attorney), I haven't had any problems because of my own profession. But my husband, who is a lawyer, was the Genearl Counsel to our Governor while I was pregnant, and that caused un-expected repercussions.

Our state was in the middle of a medical malpracice crises. The Governor eventually sponsored legislation to adress it, and that legislation largely won the support of the medical community. But while I was expecting, the legislation was still being hammered out, and the debate was ugly. The Governor had not yet given into all of the doctor's demands, and their lobbying group was livid.

One day in my first trimester, after my obstetrician recognized my husband's name in the paper, she summarily dumped me and would not even give me a referral to another doctor. Her official reason? "I'm on strike against you people until your husband's boss does something about this mess!"

During this same period I went to another doctor for my 16 week ultrasound. I was a high risk pregnancy, so I was naturally very nervous. When the doctor came in, just as a matter of polite conversation, I asked him how he was. He replied that he would be doing a lot better if my husband would get the Governor to do something about the medical malpracice situtation. He then proceeded to haraunge us through the entire course of the ultrasound, pausing only occassionaly to inform us that every thing looked fine.

Yet another obstetrician to whom I went left a 15 minute diatribe on our answering machine about the malpractice crisis before telling us that some test results were in.

Finally I found a wonderful, caring obstetrician who never breathed a word about the situation, and never expected me to reassure her that I was not a malpractice attorney. Only once my healthy baby was safely in my arms did she say quietly that she hoped my husband could do some good. We both knew just what she meant without her having to elaborate.

As a pleasant post script, my husband later arranged for her to receive an award for distinuished service to the community at a reception at the Governor's mansion in her honor.

If a doctor is so filled with venom against the entire legal profession that she honestly believes that she can't bring herself to deliver adequate care in a non-emmergent situation, then I suppose that it would be ethical, albeit sad and ill-informed, to refer the patient elsehwere.

But I certainly wish that there were better communications between the two professions to eliminate this kind of broad based ill-will, and I certainly think that if a physician feels she simply must refuse to handle a patient that she could at least swallow her bile long enough to treat that patient with a smattering of dignity before kicking that patient to the curb.

And as for a lawyer's ability to pick and chose, to which someone on this thread alluded, we are allowed to pick and chose based ONLY things such as on our evaluation of the mertis of the case, our ability to take on the client due to our current case laod, or conflict of interest. The oaths that lawyers in most states take forbid them from refusing a case based on anything having to do with any prejudice against the person bringing a case.

And in a situation analogous to emmergent care, when we are appointed to take criminal cases, we can't refuse them at all unless we have a direct conflict of interest. Also, when a lawyer does wish to be removed from a case, she has to go before the judge and make a very specific showing as to why she cannot handle it. The court will NOT allow a lawyer to dump a client simply because she doesn't like him or thinks he will sue her for malpractie.

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14 years 10 months ago #68016 by JDmom
I know I blathered on waaaay to long in my previous post, but I just had to come back and report that the minute I was finished with my "can't we all get along" screed I was handed a new case file REPRESENTING 4 DOCTORS SUING THEIR FORMER EMPLOYER!! Karma? Synchronicity? I just thought it was hillarious. (And I'll get that bastard employer and vindicate those doctors, I promise!)

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14 years 10 months ago #68017 by Doc201X

Originally posted by JDmom:
As an attorney who is now also a pre-med, this is a stunning thread to me. First and foremost, I'd like to extend an olive branch from the lawyers to the doctors. I think it is so sad that two professions that actually have so much in common (having people's wellfare in your hands, handling access to the deepest most personal parts of their lives and handling that in a responsible manner, a desire to make people's lives better, etc.) should be so alienated from one another.

First, I think your perspective on this issues is a respected one as should be those of us who beg to differ with some or all of your opinions. But I'd ask you to consider for one minute that your "high" risk pregnancy resulted in a child born with cerebal palsy, a condition that can sometimes be attributed to doctor malpractice.

My question to you is would you so eloquently stand behind the tenets of your post then?

Directed at NO ONE in particular, this entire debate reminds me of women who become anti-abortion AFTER having one or folks who don't support the death penality unitl someone close to them is brutally murdered. It's just so funny how "Life" has a way of snatching those "rose colored, judgemental glasses" right from our faces.

My Scientist/Physician Journey
www.Doc201X.blogspot.com

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14 years 10 months ago #68018 by Doc201X

Originally posted by JDmom:
I know I blathered on waaaay to long in my previous post, but I just had to come back and report that the minute I was finished with my "can't we all get along"

The way I see it 3 things will HAVE ot occur:

1) First, Doctors will have to "police" themselves and git rid of the "bad" apples.

2) Lawyers will have to stop expecting perfection in the practice of medicine. I've experienced my share of physician mistakes and I believe that ANY practioner of ANY profession NEVER making one is an impossibility.

3) Patients will have to be their own best advocates in their treatment and not be to quick to "rush to sue" when the medical outcome is not what we would have expected or wanted.

My Scientist/Physician Journey
www.Doc201X.blogspot.com

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14 years 10 months ago #68019 by Doc201X
One final comment and then I'm done (for now ;) ) is that has any asked the qurestion WHY people in general have such negative opinions of attorneys? Here's an excerpt from an very interesting article:

The vast majority of commentators generally agree that the level of "professionalism" displayed by attorneys has declined dramatically in the last twenty-five years.15 They point to the following as evidence: (1) a decline in civility and courteous conduct between lawyers, an increase in unethical or uncivil behavior among lawyers and judges, frequent lapses of appropriate ethical and professional conduct, and increasingly aggressive, competitive, and money-oriented legal battles, fought with a "win at all costs" approach;16 (2) increased competition and pressure to win-and the underlying theory that law has become a "business" rather than a profession, placing a heightened emphasis on materialism and money;17 (3) a decline in attorney and client loyalty to the law firm;18 (4) frequent and abrupt dissolutions and reconstitutions of large law firms;19 (5) an increase in aggressive lawyer advertising;20 and (6) a perceived general decline in lawyers' values, ideals, and morals.21

www.wcl.american.edu/journal/lawrev/46/daic.html

What's also interesting to note is that public opinion about physicians has remained largely unchanged and is still quite positive. IMHO, sometimes the best way to effect change is to start with "the man in the mirror".

My Scientist/Physician Journey
www.Doc201X.blogspot.com

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