We physicians have relatively little understanding of the legal process. And we will say — we say things like, ‘You ought to be out of that house. You ought to be in someplace clean.’ And then I sort of wash my hands of it and don’t realize the downstream implications. Somebody’s got to help them get the resources….
DR. KERRY RODABAUGH, Nebraska Medicine: I ran a medical-legal partnership, and came to find that I could not practice medicine without that. We are learning that we really are impacting health. So, if we can get somebody reinstated with their insurance plan, then they’re going to be able to afford to take their anti-hypertension medication and their blood pressure’s going to be improved. And who would’ve thought of that — that an attorney’s going to fix somebody’s blood pressure?
Omaha is part of a growing movement modeled on a partnership founded in 1993. Doctors at Boston Medical Center linked cases of childhood asthma to mold in homes and brought in lawyers to take on negligent landlords. The idea took years to catch on. But national leaders say there are medical-legal partnerships now in almost 300 hospitals and health centers, and that dozens more are being planned.
Doctors and lawyers seem like oil and water in that they just don’t mix together, but in reality they form a very needed coalition. In retrospect it does make a lot of sense. I don’t know how many of you remember the time where it was unacceptable for a lawyer to advertise. The ABA said it would diminish the status of the legal profession and of course for most part it did just that. I get very tired of all the “ambulance chasing” lawyers on TV.
And then there are the police/lawyer shows who portray lawyers as guys who, for the money, will do everything to get their guilty clients off of serious charges. The OJ Simpson case confirmed that for many of us. Then there is the fact that the vast majority of our representatives in Washington DC are lawyers. Let’s face it, lawyers just don’t get much respect from many of us.
Changing gears here, I don’t know about your part of the country, but where I live there is a very rapid integration of the healthcare field. Almost all of the local doctors and hospitals in my area now belong to one business entity. Doing so allows them to self-fund malpractice coverage among other things. It also allows them to have more of a personal life in that someone else in the firm can cover for them when they need time off.
I’m sure most of these new integrated doctor/hospital firms have their own legal teams to handle things that they know little about but greatly affect the healthcare of their patients. All of this is a good thing as long as we also develop regulatory agencies to monitor possible malfeasance.
Doctor/Lawyer teams??? Go figure….