Patients Being Asked to Sign Arbitration Agreements

Patients Being Asked to Sign Arbitration Agreements

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Susan Wood ReportingWhen you go to see your doctor you may soon be greeted by more than his or her nurse. There's a new trend in healthcare designed to lower costs. But is it fair?

Do be surprised if you're asked to sign an arbitration agreement in the near future. Beginning December, IHC’s Instacare facilities in the Salt Lake valley may turn you away if you fail to sign it. It's an option that more and more doctors are opting to ask their patients to do.

Arbitration is designed to curb rising medical costs. Instead of filing suit, if a patient is unhappy with a doctor's care, the patient and doctor would each retain their own arbiter. A third, unbiased arbiter would then oversee negotiations.

Initially, Dr. Leckman was reluctant to ask his patients to sign an agreement.

Dr. Scott Leckman: "This is the last thing that you want to talk about with a patient, the possibility they may be unhappy with the care and they may want to sue you. It's the last thing you want to talk about."

But it was just one way, in his mind, to fight the rising cost of malpractice insurance and, in turn, a patient’s cost for healthcare.

Some healthcare facilities are incorporating a blanket policy based on changes after the last legislative session to the Utah Law. If a patient refuses to sign, they will be told to find a new physician.

Dr. Leckman generally only asks patients to sign an agreement if they're going to be having surgery. Then patients have 30 days to reconsider.

IHC is not only beginning to require the agreements at its Instacares, it's already asking for signed agreements at it's clinic in Sandy.

It IS important to note, that if a patient needs emergency care he cannot be required to sign an agreement.

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