Doctors and Hospitals Seek Special Treatment for Emergency Room Malpractice

Legislation has been introduced that would require a patient suing an emergency room doctor, on-call specialist, or hospital providing emergency room services to prove that the negligence of the provider rose to level of gross negligence.

Given the declining number of medical malpractice cases and the fact that there are only 6 or 7 verdicts for patients in any given year, one must wonder about the need for such legislation.  It springs from arrogance, greed, or both.

That being said, I support the legislation, with one little amendment that says this:

(a) Every  Internet or print advertisement or other publication by a hospital or doctor that provides any type of emergency treatment  in the emergency room of a hospital shall include the following language in bold type of not less than 18-point font on each page:

This health care provider is not liable for its negligence in caring for you in an emergency room unless you or, if you die, your family can prove gross negligence.  Under Tennessee law, gross negligence is a conscious neglect of duty to care for you or a callous indifference to whether you are injured or die as a result of our care.  No emergency room in any adjoining state is protected by such a law.

(b) Every radio or television advertisement by a hospital or doctor that provides any emergency treatment in the emergency room of a hospital shall have the three sentences immediately above read out loud as a part of the advertisement.

(c) Any hospital which or doctor who agrees to waive the gross negligence standard in a writing filed with the Department of Health no later than July 1 of each year beginning in 2010 need not comply with the requirements of (a) or (b) and may advertise that (i)  it has agreed to be liable for negligence and (b) may identity the health care providers that have chosen to be liable only for gross negligence.

I mean, if you really think you are entiltled to special treatment, why would you be embarassed about telling your prospective patients about it?