Should ER doctors be immune from medical malpractice?

Emergency physicians are forced by EMTALA  to treat everyone who comes through the ER doors.

Should these cases be exempt from medical malpractice? The Happy Hospitalist argues that the standard of care within the community sets an unreasonable bar. Consider this situation, for instance:

The [problem] I see in today’s malpractice environment is the irrational standard of care that has been established, not by science, but rather by the fear of the lawsuit itself. Everyday of my life I see head CTs ordered on patients with drug overdoses because they are acting funny. Should that be the standard of care? Of course not. Is it? Yes.

He appears to support a bill recently introduced in Ohio where “physicians would have qualified civil immunity while working in emergency rooms and be subject only to lawsuits if they showed ‘willful or wanton misconduct.'”

Shadowfax, an ER physician himself, has something to say about the matter. Even if the bill passes, it doesn’t the cost to a hospital that EMTALA exacts, and also handicaps patients who are legitimately harmed in the ER. So, even if physician lobbying groups welcome this idea, he writes that such an idea “is inadequate, logically disconnected from the problem, unfair to patients, and excessively broad is not the right solution.”

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