Constitutional Ammendments Needed by Our Medical Professionals.

July 22, 2012 in Health Care "Reform", Health Policy by RangelMD

In the context of the numerous constitutional amendments proposed by Slate readers recently, I would like to propose several of my own that are desperately needed by this nation’s hard working medical professionals.

AMENDMENT 28:  Citizens and others paying Federal income taxes shall be allowed to deduct from said taxes the sum total of any non-reimbursed services or products required to be provided under Federal law as part of regular employment or professional services.

Each year tens of thousands of physicians and other health professionals staffing acute care hospitals and other facilities are forced to provide emergency medical and surgical care as required by the Federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). Much of this care is provided to individuals who are not covered by private or goverment insurance and who either do not have the means and/or the intention of ever paying these medical professionals for saving their lives. These patients do retain the right to sue these same physicians however, which has lead to critical shortages in surgical specialists staffing hospital ERs. Faced with unlimited liability and no requirement to be reimbursed for the care given, it’s a wonder that more medical and surgical specialists don’t give up their privileges in community based acute care hospitals and take their talents to surgical specialty hospitals where they are not required by Federal law to provide non-reimbursed charity care.

AMENDMENT 29:   All defendants in personal injury lawsuits involving allegations of medical malpractice shall have the right to a trial by a jury composed of equal parts medical professionals, consumer or patient advocates, and specialists in medical malpractice jurisprudence.

Section 1. Such specialized juries shall be independently selected and compensated by the judiciary.

Section 2. Such specialized juries shall serve terms as dictated by applicable law.

The idea that physicians accused of medical malpractice are allowed a trial by a jury “of their peers” is laughable if you consider their peers to be mostly non-medical professional citizens picked specifically for their ignorance or lack of experience in the medical health care system.  Plaintiff lawyers use this system to pressure defendant physicians to settle out of court rather then risk the uncertainty that may come using subtlety, innuendo, technicality, and emotionalism to sway a jury made up of people who are picked specifically because they are ignorant in health care and health care law.

AMENDMENT 30:  Plaintiffs in personality injury medical malpractice lawsuits are to be held financially liable for the sum total of the defendant’s legal costs if  the case is either disposed of by summary judgement of the court or if a jury rules in favor of the defendant.

This is a variation of the so-called English rule. I.e loser pays. The amendment is carefully worded so as not to restrict access to a court of law for those truly injured by medical malpractice. It is intended to deter those cases which have no merit or would not survive under scrutiny of a jury.  In legal theory, a legitimate case would still be able to be settled pre-trial while a frivolous case would either be dismissed outright by the court or be forced to take its chances in a trial setting.

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