Sometimes I read Kevin, M.D. out of what I can only assume is a hidden desire to gnash my teeth thinking about medical malpractice:

Massachusetts is allowing a new form of malpractice lawsuit to go forward:

A woman wrecked her car, killing an innocent bystander. Now the bystander’s widow is suing the woman’s doctors, arguing that they should have warned her not to drive while taking the pain medicines they prescribed.

The problem is, a majority of medications can lead to lightheadedness and dizziness, which in theory, can impair the ability to drive. Blood pressure and diabetes drugs for instance. Should patients taking these medications be warned not to drive?

At the very least, I would be very wary of prescribing any form of narcotic medications if these types lawsuits were to succeed. Patients lose again.

I’ll put aside the assertion that "a majority of medications" are at issue; I imagine he wrote that as a throw-away line.

On to the merits, it’s interesting that Kevin does not attack the nominal "problem" with the ruling, in that it creates the right of third parties to sue physicians where the physician was negligent in their treatment of a patient and that negligence injured the third party. That’s what all the doctors in Massachusetts were freaking out about. So we’ll leave that to another day.

Instead, he apparently frets that physicians should not be held liable where they failed to warn patients about the risks of the medications they are prescribing.

Why not? Is it really so hard to hand a patient a brochure or to talk over the risks on the package with them? Is it really so terrible if the standard of care requires a physician listen to their patient and, upon hearing an elderly woman say she feels faint while driving, suggest she stop driving?

The practical answer most physicians would give is that of course they want to take the time to discuss every detail of the medication they are prescribing to their patients, but they simply can’t. If they did that, they wouldn’t make nearly enough money to support their practice.

That’s not a complaint about medical malpractice, trial lawyers, or torts. It’s a complaint about insurance reimbursements, which encourage doctors to treat patient visits like speed dating.

So stop blaming us.

* gnashes teeth *

If you were injured by medical malpractice, contact a Philadelphia medical malpractice attorney.