Medical Tuesday Blog

Unanticipated Medical Outcomes

May 21

Written by: Del Meyer
05/21/2017 2:10 PM 

Isn’t it a physician’s duty to be perfect in clinical outcomes?

The Kansas legislature has introduced SB 96. The disclosure of unanticipated medical outcomes and errors act was introduced in 2015 and has been scheduled for a hearing in Senate Judiciary this week. This bill imposes a duty on health care providers to make mandatory disclosures to patients and licensing agencies of any unanticipated outcomes and medical errors. Failure to disclose such events is punishable by a $10,000 fine per event.

It also requires hospitals to develop and implement disclosure policies, and mandates meetings and discussions between patients and providers about these events. It also mandates disclosure of unanticipated outcomes or medical errors to past patients if they weren’t previously informed of the event. It also prohibits confidential settlements in medical liability claims which arise from unanticipated outcomes or medical errors. Though the intent of the bill is to encourage communication and disclosure between providers and patients, the bill is overly prescriptive and complex and would be difficult, if even possible, to comply with. KMS has submitted testimony in opposition to SB 96.

Overheard in the courthouse attorney’s lounge:

If we can get SB 96 passed, that should be a gold mine.
No, it would be a diamond mine.
You really think that much?
Every doctor I know makes mistakes every day.
At $10,000 for each mistake, we should easily find at least a hundred in each physician.
That’s a million dollars from each doctor.

When are we as Physicians going to understand the huge amount of ill will out there? The attorneys in practice and in the legislature, despite what they say, will continue to harass us. The doctors that go through law school are no help. They are neither fish nor fowl. They also fail to understand the underlying issues. Quality has always been our middle name. Why do we put up with the lay folks asking us to improve quality? The best quality will always include unanticipated outcomes which the litigious public views as mistakes. They expect us to be perfect.

I guess that takes us back to the old days when even we thought we were gods.

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