Guiding Question: “Why would you have a physician-patient relationship with someone you never see?
1. Write an Initial Post (250- 300 words).
2. Consider the following questions as you write your initial post:
Respond to the question:
“Why would you have a physician-patient relationship with someone you never see? Do you have a physician-patient relationship with somone you never see? Please give an example.
If you are unhappy with an outcome in that situation, what legal violation could you claim?
the “Oliver v. Brock” case (page 178-179 in your Showalter textbook):
For example, in Oliver v. Brock,5 Dr. Whitfield was treating Anita Oliver in rural Demopolis, Alabama, for injuries sustained in an automobile accident. During a telephone conversation with a colleague named Dr. Brock about another patient, Dr. Whitfield casually mentioned Ms. Oliver’s treat-ment and asked for Dr. Brock’s opinion. According to Dr. Whitfield’s affida-vit (see Legal Decision Point), Dr. Brock told him the treatment seemed to be correct under the circumstances. The conversation was apparently infor-mal and gratuitous, and one can almost imagine Dr. Whitfield saying, “Oh, by the way, what do you think about this other situation I have?”
Dr. Brock practiced in Tuscaloosa, which is about 60 miles from Demopolis. In his affidavit he introduced himself as “one of the Defendants in the above styled cause,” and asserted that he never saw the patient, talked to her or her family, or even learned her name. He admitted that he occasionally talked to Dr. Whitfield by phone (apparently to discuss patients), but he continually emphasized that he did not know Anita Oliver and that she had never been his patient. His affidavit concluded, “I have never been employed or requested to care for or treat Anita Oliver and I have not been employed or requested to advise any-one with regard to her medical problems.”
As result of Dr. Whitfield’s course Legal Decision Point An affidavit is a written document in which the affiant—the one who signs the document—swears under penalty of perjury that the facts asserted in the statement are true. Affidavits generally cannot substitute for in-court testimony because they are not subject to cross-examination. However, affi-davits are sometimes used to support arguments on collateral matters, especially if the opposing attorney does not object. In Oliver v. Brock, affi-davits were used to support Dr. Brock’s position that he did not have a doctor–patient relationship with Oliver, and by the plaintiffs to support their own position. Who do you suppose wrote the affidavits in of treatment, which presumably had been at least casually supported by Dr. Brock, Anita Oliver ended up suffering further injury. In her own affidavit as plaintiff, the patient’s mother, Cathy Oliver, stated, “I became concerned regarding the care and treatment rendered or done by Dr. Whit-field and . . . Dr. Whitfield told me that he would call Dr. Brock in Tuscaloosa to get some advise [sic] on how to treat my daughter’s injuries.” She said that Whitfield later told her that Dr. Brock told him that the treatment was correct and should be continued. Her affida-vit concludes, “I sincerely believe that Dr. Brock took part in the treatment of my daughter and that he is at fault for the serious injuries suffered by my daughter as a result of this treatment.”
After reviewing the evidence, such as it was, the Supreme Court of Alabama unanimously decided that there was no doctor–patient relationship between Dr. Brock and Anita Oliver, so the physician could not be held liable for the injuries the patient sustained as a result of the treatment. One of the justices summarized this position clearly in a concurring opinion: The mere discussion between professional people of hypothetical situations can-not be viewed as a basis for liability. To hold otherwise would tend to adversely affect the quality of the services they offer to members of the public. Physicians, lawyers, dentists, engineers, and other professionals, by comparing problem-solving approaches with other members of their disciplines, have the opportunity to learn from one another. Possessing this freedom, they are better positioned to bring theory into practice for the benefit of those whom they serve. Our decision in this case preserves these essential learning situations for all professional people.
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