Thursday, December 14, 2006

Malpractice Immunity for Academic Physicians

Kevin MD linked to this article regarding immunity for physicians working for the state (in this case Ohio):
The Ohio Supreme Court issued its opinion this week in Theobald .v University of Cincinnati, granting blanket immunity from liability to physicians for their negligent acts when the medical malpractice occurs while the physician is teaching medical students or residents of a state medical school. It makes no difference whether the doctor is being paid privately or whether the doctor is acting outside of his official teaching capacity when the malpractice is committed. The bottom line is that the doctor may now be immune from suit and from accountability whenever a student is present during a medical procedure.
The lawyer writing this article just doesn't get it. In most states, full-time physician state employees are working for the state all the time, whether they are with students/residents or not. The usual university contract forbids full-time employees from practicing medicine except as part of their state employment. Billing is often done through a group practice plan (the university usually can't bill insurance companies directly). The income from this group practice plan is often controlled/distributed by the department chairman and is not the same as "being paid privately."
Here is how it works in Mississippi.
The actual court decision is interesting reading.


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