Health Care Law

Scenario 1 (50 points):

A hospital is being threatened with a lawsuit by a patient’s family. Here are the facts: the patient came to the emergency department complaining of severe pain in the lower right side of their abdomen. The hospital contracts with a private physician practice to staff the emergency room.

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The doctors are not employees of the hospital but the average person would not know that is the case. The doctors have the hospital logo on their lab coats, they have hospital ID badges, and the hospital controls their work schedules, training, and general supervision.

The patient is evaluated quickly by one of the physicians and it is correctly determined that they have acute appendicitis and need surgery. The doctor writes an order for pain medication to make the patient more comfortable. The doctor didn’t bother to check dosing information on the drug because his shift was ending and he wanted to get home. He mistakenly ordered a dose 10X higher than indicated. A dose of that volume would be lethal.

A nurse recognizes the error while in the patient’s room and calls in another physician. They discuss the error in front of the family. The second physician orders the correct dosage. The patient’s surgery goes smoothly and the patient recovers without any complications.

The family is threatening to sue the hospital because of the first physician’s negligence related to the dosing error on the pain medication. There are two issues you are being asked to analyze.

1a-Does the hospital have any liability at all because the physician is not actually one of their employees? (25 points). Carefully apply the law as we learned the facts and come to a decision. Defend your answer.

1b-No matter how you decided Issue 2a, would the family have a valid negligence claim? Apply the facts to all the requirements for negligence and reach a decision. Defend your answer.

Scenario 2 (50 points)

For this scenario, assume you work in the compliance department of a local community hospital with 250 employees. You were hired because the hospital currently has no compliance or ethics program. The hospital accepts patients with Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, and private insurance. During the course of your work, you notice that about six months ago the hospital canceled all its purchasing contracts with established durable medical equipment (wheelchairs, walkers, oxygen tanks, etc.) suppliers and started doing business exclusively with a brand new company that just started operating. The new contract was approved by the Board of Directors and all members of the executive team of the hospital. When you ask why the hospital would switch all its business to an untested company, you were told that the supplier gives a cash bonus directly to the Chief Executive Officer (who is not a physician) of 5% for every dollar spent by a patient referred from the hospital. You looked further into the new contract and you see language relating to the bonus spelled-out. The hospital and its subsidiaries have never been in trouble with federal or state regulators in the past. You have a bad feeling about this and decide that you want to prepare a memo for your supervisor regarding this situation. You want to include the following points in the memo:

2a. What law, if any, do you think is being violated. Explain the law, including the general-purpose behind the law. What are the elements of the law? Do you feel that the hospital could be found guilty? Why? Be specific and cite examples.

2b. Assume that the hospital has violated the law. What about the hospital and this incident would help them when it comes to sentencing? What about the hospital and this incident would hurt them when it comes to sentencing? Be specific and defend your answers with relevant law. For more information on Health Care Law check on this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_law

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