Valley Health Care: Group won't arbitrate medical cases; Patients must sign new contracts omitting use of association

Las Vegas Review Journal
Thursday, August 7, 2003

Arbitration agreements that some area doctors have asked patients to sign prior to any dispute are worthless, according to the American Arbitration Association.

The agreements, in which patients waive their right to a jury trial, stipulate that the association would arbitrate in the event of a dispute.

"It's not fair to ask a person who's going in for medical treatment to sign an arbitration agreement," Meade said. "Unless a patient indicates they want arbitration after a dispute, we won't handle it anymore."

The American Medical Association strongly supports arbitration agreements, said AMA president Dr. Donald Palmisano.

"The AMA is not at all opposed to binding arbitration between physicians and patients," he said. "The agreements are an option available to each physician and we strongly encourage people to look at that choice."

Officials with the Center for Justice and Democracy, a national consumer rights organization, say arbitration agreements are "appalling." The group is funded by membership subscriptions, which include trial lawyer organizations, and donations from other groups.

"This is really disturbing," said Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the group. "These agreements can never be voluntary when you're faced with the threat of not receiving medical care."

Doroshow said she encourages patients to not sign the contract.
"You have no idea what rights you might need until something happens," she said. "Make the decision then."
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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