Patients asked to sign vow: no 'frivolous' suit

Chicago Sun-Times
Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Sixteen doctors at a women's health clinic in the northwest suburbs have begun using an aggressive new tactic to fend off malpractice suits.

Patients at four WomanCare offices are being asked to sign a contract promising not to file "frivolous" malpractice suits. 

Some patients have asked questions about the form, said WomanCare CEO Dr. Carl Cucco. "But no one has refused to sign," he said.

Anyone who does refuse still would be treated.

Cucco said the contract levels the playing field in malpractice litigation. "We want to play fairly, and most patients are very supportive."

But Joanne Doroshow of the consumer group Center for Justice and Democracy said the contract is an "unethical and egregious violation of patients' rights. The purpose is to intimidate a patient to not file a lawsuit if injured in malpractice."

Segal said the threat of being counter-sued will deter patients and attorneys from filing frivolous malpractice suits.

About 71 percent of malpractice claims eventually are dropped by patients or dismissed by the court, according to the Physicians Insurers Association of America. Segal said many such claims were frivolous to begin with.

But Doroshow contends that very few malpractice cases are frivolous. Malpractice lawsuits "are expensive and difficult," Doroshow said. "No attorney can afford to bring a frivolous case because they only get paid if they win."

For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D

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