The customer is always right. For decades, this was the philosophy of the American business culture. For some industries it still is. Some retailers sell their goods with a 100 percentage guarantee of satisfaction. But some industries do not lend themselves well to money-back guarantees. One of these is the medical profession.
No doctor is infallible. Factors out of a doctor’s control can affect the success of a patient’s treatment, the outcome of an operation and patient injuries. In fact, a doctor who claims “100 percent success or your money back” is actually a little scary. So who does pay when a doctor is wrong?
As the medical industry and the insurance business currently operate, the patient still pays. Ask someone who has lost a loved one on the operating table about adding insult to injury when the hospital bill appears in his or her mailbox. Ask the doctor who is still being billed for the copayment for his wife’s surgery that caused an undetected cancer to spread.
That doctor is now on a crusade to argue that patients should not be expected to pay for medical care that causes them harm or worsens their condition. He has opened up a Pandora’s Box about medical expenses in general and who should be responsible for them.
He even speculates that linking patient payments to outcomes could reduce the number of medical malpractice lawsuits. Rather than having to go through the court system to avoid paying bills for a botched procedure, the doctor or care facility involved would be subject to a “correction factor” to reduce or eliminate the bill, although patients may still be able to sue for other losses such as lost wages and pain and suffering.
While the doctor’s efforts patient may be admirable to some, they are also lofty goals. The health care industry and medical billing systems are structures that will be difficult to topple throughout the country, including in Louisiana. In the meantime, the court system can address doctors’ errors through medical malpractice claims.
Source: Democrat & Chronicle, “If surgery goes bad, should you fork over copayment?,” Patti Singer, May 27, 2014