Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Physician Liability

I heard Dr. Marsden Wagner, a perinatologist and former director of Women's and Childrens' Health for the World Health Organization (WHO) talk about liability risks for obstetricians who are finding themselves getting sued every time someone doesn't end up with a perfect baby.

Dr. Wagner made a statement that I will never forget. He said,

"If you're going to play God in the delivery room, you're going to get blamed for natural disasters."

Herein I believe, lies the biggest solution to our liability crisis. Doctors have led people to believe that they are "God" and if their patients will only come to the hospital where things are "safe" and where the "best medicine in the world" can take care of them, they can sit back and relax and wait for the doctor to produce a pink, squalling baby.

People are no longer being good healthcare consumers. It is implied at their very first visit that the doctor is in completely in control of everything that could happen and has a drug for every problem at his/her disposal and the eventual outcome will be secured if the doctor is allowed to "work their magic."

"So, honey, hop right up here on the exam table and put this paper gown on... We'll take a peek and tell you exactly what is happening inside you..."

Of course, people are angry and disillusioned when they obeyed all the rules, and did things the "safe" way - only to end up with this - a damaged or dead baby.

What is the solution?

The solution is better informed consumers. It's partly the health care system's fault and it's partly our own fault as consumers if we don't "read the labels" on what we're ordering.

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