Sued for failing to provide an interpreter

A solo rheumatologist was not willing to pay the $150 to $200 per visit fee an American Sign Language interpreter would have cost to treat a deaf patient, especially in the setting where Medicare paid only $49 per visit.

He was sued as the patient didn’t understand the side effects of the medications he was prescribing for her lupus:

But the patient claimed she never really understood the side-effects (swelling of her treatment), and that when she insisted the doctor was obliged to pay for an interpreter.

Half of the $400,000 verdict was for punitive damages, and was not covered under his malpractice insurance.

Should the doctor have provided an interpreter at a clear financial loss to his practice? Should there have been a moral obligation to do so? further comments on this somewhat alarming case.

topics: interpreter, malpractice

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