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Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Did you know you can be held legally responsible for things in your professional life? Ahh, 'tis true. Granted, doctors are aware of this--they carry malpractice insurance. So, do other professions. Do you?

I don't. (So don't bother suing me--you may win a judgment but all I'll be able to give you is whatever is in the checking accoung--currently $3.98) But, I could still be open to lawsuits, even though my advice is flawless. (Legal disclaimer: My advice is not flawless. And I am not a lawyer and I don't give legal advise. This is pure entertainment! Don't sue, please?)

Dr. Wes writes about why he's "dragging his heels" when it comes to new technology that would allow patients to be monitored from home--and that information sent to a doctor's office for analysis. He writes:
It’s not about just getting the data to the doctor. That, sir, is NOT healthcare. Instead, it’s about differentiating signal from noise. With a data dump to doctor’s offices, who will sift through the mountains of data (pun intended) to determine which data represent a problem in a particular patient versus a significant change? Data can change in expected ways when certain drugs are administered: like the elevation of a white blood count after steroids are administered. Will your little data processor be capable of making higher-order decisions? Unlikely.

More importantly, if a data point exceeds a pre-defined parameter and a doctor like me is notified by an e-mail using your handy-dandy device, who will follow-up to make sure I received and acted upon the notification? E-mailing data this way, without personal contact, is like planting a sinister bomb on my desk that is waiting to explode in my face. If I don't happen to check my e-mail that week because I am inundated by the scores of aged entering their twilight years, will you take the liability heat, or will I?

Dr. Helen picks up on his post and adds this thought:
The funny thing is, many times, the client, whoever that may be, balks at the idea that they cannot use their insurance for this type of forensic exam, or that if they have to pay out of pocket, the fee is not just a few bucks. Apparently, my time and exposure to liability means little--people think health service providers are a public commodity, to be used as cheap labor or thrown to the wolves if a patient is harmed in any way--either psychologically or medically because the doctor is overwhelmed with paperwork, patients and out-of-office monitoring. If out-of-office health technology is going to succeed, the liability issues and payment compensation for doctors needs to be worked out in a reasonable way.

Now, both of these people are involved in medical professions, which we all know has liability issues. But, check out the comments at Dr. Helen:
If you're in an equipment intensive business you can mitigate by isolating the gear into a separate corp that leases the stuff back to you so your business doesn't actually own anything but a desk and a phone.

As an IT guy, I've had people expect free time, expertise, etc. from me in gov, business and private. How is this different? Get sued? Sure. I wrote a bank wire application that handles 17B -- yes billion -- per day. I can get sued too.

EVERYONE is breaking MANY laws ALL the time, without even knowing it. I can think of five or six I am violating right now, so I am probably violating 20 or 30. The last violation began about 10 minutes ago - I installed a dimmer switch for the chandelier over our dining room table without getting a permit from the city building department; creating ongoing, intentional, and possibly negligent violations of a variety of ordinances.

Yikes! Are you liable for the advice you gave your neighbor? What about the report you presented to your CEO that got presented to Wall Street?

Most people won't sue, but those that have been caught in a law suit prefer not to do it again. Be careful out there.

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