Monday, June 14, 2004

If you read only the first couple of paragraphs of this story, it seems like nothing to concern yourself about:

A doctor's proposal asking the American Medical Association to endorse refusing care to attorneys involved in medical malpractice cases drew an angry response from colleagues Sunday at the annual meeting of the nation's largest physicians group.

Many doctors stood up to denounce the resolution in passionate speeches -- even after its sponsor, Dr. J. Chris Hawk, asked that it be withdrawn....

But the end of story is somewhat disturbing:

Last week, the daughter of a Mississippi legislator said she was denied treatment by a plastic surgeon because her father opposes limits in damage suits against doctors.

Dr. Michael Kanosky said he referred Kimberly Banks to other plastic surgeons to have her burn scars removed because he had lobbied on the other side of the issue and saw an ethical conflict.

And this USA Today story is even more disturbing:

...[Selina] Leewright, a nurse, was fired last summer by Good Shepherd Medical Center in the East Texas city of Longview. In dismissing her, hospital officials praised her nursing skills as "fantastic." But they told her that because her husband, Marty, worked at a law firm that does medical-malpractice litigation, the hospital could not continue to employ her. "I was dumbfounded," Leewright says. "They just assumed that my husband does medical malpractice, which he doesn't at all."...

Some doctors are refusing medical treatment to lawyers, their families and their employees except in emergencies, and the doctors are urging the American Medical Association to endorse that view. Professional medical societies are trying to silence their peers by discouraging doctors from testifying as expert witnesses on behalf of plaintiffs. And a New Jersey doctor who supported malpractice legislation that his colleagues opposed was ousted from his hospital post....

Earlier this spring, a Texas radiologist's Web site, DoctorsKnow.Us, set up a national database of patients and their attorneys who have sued for malpractice. The site's stated purpose was to discourage frivolous lawsuits. But patients and their attorneys suggested the site essentially blacklisted some patients from receiving doctors' services.

The site was shut down in March, after news reports detailed difficulties people listed on the site had in getting medical care.

In New Hampshire, Tim Coughlin, president of the New Hampshire Trial Lawyers Association, recalls an angry confrontation last fall with RickMiller, a neurosurgeon from Portsmouth, N.H. Miller told Coughlin, 40, that because Coughlin lobbied against limits on malpractice suits, Miller would refuse him treatment.

"I don't do medical-malpractice work. I'm just a basic urban lawyer," Coughlin says....

How far could this go? Will there be doctors who refuse treatment to Democrats if John Kerry picks John Edwards as his running mate?

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