A national consumer organization says some Nevada doctors are violating policies of the American Medical Association by coercing patients to give up their right to a jury trial in a malpractice claim.
In a report released Tuesday, the Center for Justice and Democracy criticized doctors in Las Vegas who ask patients, before they are treated, to agree to binding arbitration rather than a court suit in malpractice cases.
But representatives of doctors in Nevada say that the requests are legal and that they don’t know of any patients who have been turned away for refusing to sign such an agreement.
Dr. Rudy Manthei of Keep Our Doctors in Nevada said it’s the lawyers who are unhappy, not the patients who are asked to sign the agreements.
“I have never heard of one patient being refused treatment for not signing these,” Manthei said, adding that some doctors have used the agreements since at least 1983.
Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the Center for Justice and Democracy in Washington, D.C., said the practice is “in direct violation of AMA policy, which says that such agreements are fundamentally unfair to patients.”
Doroshow said that in 1998, the AMA, the American Bar Association and the American Arbitration Association agreed these types of arrangements were unfair to patients.
Doroshow also urged patients not to sign the documents and to complain to the doctor and to the Nevada Medical Association.
Larry Matheis, executive director of the Nevada State Medical Association, said the agreements are allowed under a general law in Nevada that applies to various types of professionals.