Today’s news:

Doctor fees

These waivers have patients promise not to sue for frivolous reasons or, in some cases, for any reason at all. And that’s not all. In a quest to enhance revenue, some patients are being billed for telephone conversations, paperwork and even other services that once were free. This is leading to a controversial patient backlash.

Legality is being questioned in regard to added user charges or administrative fees, which are in addition to co-payments and deductibles that are already covered by health plans. Medical providers should be charging only for care rendered. So who’s at fault?

Many doctors criticize exorbitant awards given by juries. Other physicians blame lawyers in the motivating and encouragement of lawsuits at the drop of a hat. Another big finger is pointed at the insurance companies because with added costs and shrinking income, the industrial investment has declined.

This puts the squeeze on the medical profession sector with higher premiums as well as lower reimbursement fees. So who’s at fault? Is it very generous members of the jury, attorneys or insurance companies? I believe it is none of the above.

It appears our judicial system is where you’ll find the leak in the boat. Our present system literally allows anyone to sue for anything. A frivolous lawsuit is initiated. The case eventually must go before a judge in a procedure called summary judgment. After reviewing both sides of the case, the judge must render a decision on whether the case warrants enough substance to be assigned to trial.

If a case is truly frivolous the judge has the right to dismiss it and that ends the matter. In most instances today, however, it appears that many such cases are granted the right to trial. We all know of the McDonald’s story in which a woman puts a steamy hot cup of coffee between her legs while driving a car and then consequently spills it and burns herself. Who is at fault?

So how’s business for doctors and malpractice insurance? At the very least, doctors should set up a counter-suit frivolous fund. What should also be remembered is that doctors are not gods and when appropriate should be held accountable, with all waivers to malpractice lawsuits prohibited.

Joe Palumbo is the fund manager for The Palco Group Inc., an investment company, and can be reached at or 718-461-8317.

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