Sunday, October 19, 2008
Unfunded mandate = unfunded liability
A physican was recent sued and had to pay $400,000 because a patient claimed that because the physician did not hire an interpeter they did not understand the risks of the medication that they were prescribed. In this case the patient was deaf and the risks were printed on the information they received from the pharmacy. Even so, they sued the doc because Medicare mandates that a translator be available at all times. Of course Medicare does not pay for the translator. If you do get a translator, the translator will of course state that they are not responsible if the patient misunderstands the instructions and your hospital attorney will tell you that you are ultimately responsible. So here you go, a pateint comes into the ER, you have to see them by law regardless if they can pay, you then have to pay out of your own pocket what ever it costs to have an interpeter and even then, they can still sue claiming that they didn't understand the instructions. Then of course you must see them in follow up so you do not get sued for abandonment and must hire the interpeter every time they come to the office. (Because, even then it is your not the patient's responsibility to have an interpeter.) Something tells me that they will always be able to find an attorney as attorneys by law dont have to hire an interpeter.