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Archive for Monday, April 16, 2007

DA says bill would handicap consumers

Branson not in favor of exempting doctors from Consumer Protection Act

April 16, 2007

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— Count Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson among those urging Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to veto a bill that will restrict consumers in court.

Senate Bill 55 would exempt health care providers, such as doctors, from the Kansas Consumer Protection Act.

In a recent letter to Sebelius, Branson said the bill would "handicap the consumer" and set a dangerous precedent by exempting certain groups from the consumer law.

"If we recognize a cause of action for misleading advertisement or communications from car dealers, contractors, plumbers, lawyers, engineers, salesmen, home inspectors and every other industry, why would any particular group, particularly one consumers tend to rely upon and trust, be exempt from this fair, reasonable and important standard?" Branson said.

Attorney General Paul Morrison and Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston also oppose the legislation.

The bill was sought by doctors and their attorneys after the Kansas Supreme Court ruled in a Wichita case in February that a doctor could be held liable for deceptive acts under the Kansas Consumer Protection Act. Supporters of the bill say there are other legal remedies for patients who allege they were wronged in their health care, such as medical malpractice lawsuits.

Sebelius' office said the governor was reviewing the bill. She has until Friday to decide whether to veto it.

Comments

Ceallach 7 years, 8 months ago

At least the doctors' lawyers are doing their job. Could misleading advertisements or communications really be qualified to file under malpractice? Doesn't sound right.

Baille 7 years, 8 months ago

So you take Grandma to a nursing home. She has had a long life and one well lived. She has made it through the Great Depression, WWII, saw her kids go through Viet Nam, and lived to see and play and care for a passel of grandkids.Now she has had a stroke. You hope the nursing home is temporary, but getting better is going to take round the clock care, a robust rehab program, and a little help from God.

You and the family spend a lot of time searching for the right home. You inspect the facilities and you talk to the administrators about what she needs. You find one. They tell you they will give her top-notch care - whatever it takes. They show you a model room. You sign the papers.

And then - instead of the model room, she is bunking with a lady whose apnea keeps her from getting a full-night's sleep. Instead of rigorous rehab, she gets the bare minimum due to staffing shortfalls. She is not even getting the promised round the clock care, but instead she is "checked on" periodically throughout the day and night based on a generic checklist.

Grandma develops complications and starts to decline fast. Whatever chance she might have had seems lost. Whether the nursing home committed actionable negligence seems questionable. Experts are required and you are spending every last dollar on tryingt to get Grandama better. But you know that you were lied to about the kind of care she would receive. Now she has to be sent off to a rehabilitation hospital. Her chances seem low and the cost is astronomical. All her life savings are being drained away and you don't know what to do once it is all gone.

You didn't sign up for "D" level of care, which is allowable under negligence laws. You signed her up for "A" level care. That is what you contracted for but it sure ain't what you got.

You want her money back. You want them to pay for the portion of the future expenses caused by their "D" level care.

So you sue under the Kansas Consumer Protection Act thinking that your plumber can't lie to about promised services. The termite guy can't lie about the services they perform. Surely, the nursing home will be held to the same level of responsibility for honest dealings.

Well, that would have been true last month. But now your legislators have decied that medical professionals deserve immunity. They can lie about what services they wil perform. They can lie about the efficacy of those services. They can promise you the A-treatment but deliver the D, and your legislators - your Lawrence legislators - think that is OK. Medical professionals can't be held responsible under the Kansas Consumer Protection Act. Your suit is dismissed by the judge and never even gets to a jury.

This is a bad law. I have no idea why our legislators thought giving permission to medical professionals to lie was a good thing, but it looks like it is up to Sebelius to kill this bill. I hope she does.

pelliott 7 years, 8 months ago

finally someone in that office that considers consumer as important. We are only going to turn the the tide , one law, one government office at a time. When the thiefs own the sherriff, taxes, homes, life savings, civil rights all are for sale. The federal tax cuts go to the rich, the oil war and government bloat are paid for by the poor. The doctors and lawyers want special protection from the society they formed, they want exempted from the rapcious appetite of of the hedgehogs they raised. Drs. fought every health care reform proposed in the last 100 years, now they want to be protected from a system that is a runaway track for the rest of the population.

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