Thursday, May 03, 2007

Doctors Sue Back

According to the Associated Press, a group of doctors has filed suit against the state of Louisiana seeking $100 million they say they are owed for providing free care to poor and uninsured patients following Hurricane Katrina.

In all, 381 physicians at West Jefferson Medical Center, says the state failed to reimburse them for treating indigent patients since the Aug. 29, 2005, hurricane closed the state-funded Charity Hospital in New Orleans.

Despite many years of poorly reimbursed training, excessively long hours, and thousands of dollars in loans, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone crying for doctors. And I’m not saying we should start the water works just yet. But I am proud of my fellow colleagues for standing up for themselves and not simply accepting the role of martyr while everyone else collects a paycheck. I am quite sure the rest of the hospital staffers and administrators got their compensation – the union would make sure of it.

For years, physicians have taken a passive role in their reimbursement for a number of reasons. Firstly, they rightfully believe that people must be cared for regardless of compensation and like me, have a slight complex about “fighting” for money. Next, by convention, doctors are hard-working individualists who have to deal with complex billing systems and shrewd insurance companies. This makes for big trouble when trying to advocate on their behalf. Lastly, no one cries for doctors as most are quite comfortable.

It was probably a very difficult decision to sue the state of Louisiana after such a tragedy and I am sure it was not an easy undertaking to get these physicians to sign on. Many will scowl at the thought of doctors suing – as if they need the money. Evidently, they do. And they are not suing the indigent who received care, they are suing the state that is supposed to provide for their constituents – rich and poor, black and white, blue collar, white collar or no collar.

I am (quietly) proud of these physicians for taking a stand and not becoming the good martyrs in this instance. They trained long and hard for their degree and the privilege to call themselves physicians and they deserve compensation like everyone else. Chalk one up for the white coats – at least until the next billing scandal.

1 comment:

Nurse Tracy said...

I'm not sure what I think of this...I was an ER nurse in FL and got in touch with red cross and offered to donate a week of care there myself. Frankly if we had unversal care the doctors would have been taken care of.