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Las Vegas, protector of patient rights? You got it. From the Las Vegas Sun comes a message for all of us in Florida.


Signing your rights away

Preserve access to courts for consumers, including those who are seeing doctors

A Las Vegas Sun story on Monday recounted the ordeal of a local woman who went more than two years without an obstetrician/gynecologist after being dropped by her former specialist in 2004. The woman suspects she was dropped after she rejected an agreement to have any future malpractice claim settled by arbitration rather than the courts.

Although they are becoming common in many fields, we oppose such pre-claim agreements. Consumers always have a right to choose arbitration after they make a claim, whether for malpractice or a construction defect. But they should not be pressured in advance to sign away their right to avail themselves of the court system.

In the case of health care, many patients may sign such an agreement out of fear, given that many medical specialists are overloaded already and are reluctant to expand their practices.

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