ED Legal Letter – January 1, 2010
January 1, 2010
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During past medical malpractice crises, many states established "patient compensation funds" to provide accessible and affordable medical liability insurance to health care providers.
In a growing number of states, including Florida, Georgia, Texas and South Carolina, Utah, Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, and North Carolina, legislation is being introduced to give emergency department (ED) physicians added protections against malpractice lawsuits.
A 50-year-old female called emergency medical services (EMS) because she is short of breath. She has a recent history of pneumonia and received outpatient treatment. The paramedics arrive and find the patient in moderate respiratory distress. The patient states she wants to be transported to Our Lady of the Financially Secure Hospital (Hospital A) because this is where her health maintenance organization (HMO) is; the estimated time of arrival (ETA) would be 15 minutes.
Tom Scaletta, MD, medical director of a high-volume community hospital in a Chicago suburb, says that his interest in calling back emergency medicine patients began a decade ago when he created and implemented programs in two high-volume EDs that he directed. "I staffed the position with dedicated clerks who attempted to reach every discharged patient," he says.