In Florida, Dr. Donaldson pointed out, hospitals are required by state law to have emergency rooms. Will liability reform, bigger reimbursements, and increasing the supply of specialists solve all the problems of emergency room care? No, asserted Dr. Donaldson. “As long as people are using emergency rooms as a required access to care, doctors are at significant risk.
Explore This IssueJune 2006
“People who need hospitals are people who are really sick. And one of the problems is, we’ve degraded the value of treating really sick patients. Who wants to treat somebody who’s gotten nailed by a train? Because, frankly, you’re going to get paid more money if you work for the railway and you re-paint the train—without the liability.”
Dr. Harris concedes that, particularly in California, hospitals are hampered by another set of unfunded mandates: seismic retrofitting. However, he said, “there is a maldistribution of money in the system.” Part of the problem is a result of the minority of physicians who, in the 1970s and 1980s, “ripped off the system because they thought there was endless money there. So part of this situation is that some of our own chickens are coming home to roost. Yet, there are no criminals here. I understand what everybody is doing. They’re just trying to make a living at the end of the day.”
©2006 The Triological Society