I’m at a medical conference in Houston this week (picking up some CME credits) and between lectures I’ve had some interesting conversations with my peers. Here’s my favorite story:
A patient underwent a total hip replacement surgery, had a normal post-operative course, was transferred for inpatient rehabilitation, progressed well and was discharged home. Several months later the patient decided to sue the hospital, claiming that he was sent home with a dislocated hip. The hospital couldn’t prove that the patient’s hip was not dislocated at the time of discharge because no x-ray was taken on that day. Of course, the only reason an x-ray would have been taken was if there were a strong suspicion of a fracture or dislocation (x-rays are not normally repeated on the day of discharge).
The hospital was found liable and will settle out of court for an undisclosed (but very large) amount.
My guess is that this case will cause:
1. The hospital to take unnecessary x-rays of all total hip patients on the day of discharge from now to eternity.
2. More dishonest patients to file frivolous law suits.
3. The local med/mal attorney population to spread the word about a new source of income.
4. Further cutbacks in the hospital’s charitable care due to funding deficits.
5. Someone with a hip replacement to buy a new Ferrari.
Sigh.This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at RevolutionHealth.com.