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Is the corporate veil a defense against medical negligence?

Many challenges face the medical profession. From changes in health coverage laws to overburdened schedules, a doctor has many responsibilities and pressures. Yet those demands can never be an excuse for negligence or medical errors.

Readers may have heard of MDVIP, a concierge medicine practice. The company, founded in 2000, attempted to meet American consumers' demand for improved access to doctors and greater ease in scheduling appointments, sometimes including same-day appointments. 

According to the company’s website, a membership for about $1,800 per year will give members access to personalized care. The company claims that it differs from traditional healthcare in being more proactive. Whereas some Americans might regard medical care as reactive, utilizing it only when they have an illness or medical issue that requires attention, MDVIP claims that it takes the time to educate members about preventative health screening and ways to live a healthier lifestyle.

The company must be doing something right, as it has continued to grow and is now in its fifteenth year of operation. However, it remains to be seen how the company will respond to a recent $8.5 million medical malpractice verdict.

According to the complaint, one of MDVIP’s doctors misdiagnosed a patient’s leg pain, and that alleged negligence ultimately required the patient to undergo amputation. The result is particularly noteworthy because the doctor was not an actual employee of MDVIP, but rather an independent contractor. In the eyes of a medical malpractice attorney, this ruling may illustrate that medical mistakes cannot be shielded by a corporate veil or other technicality.

Source: MedPage Today, “Concierge Medicine Firm Found Liable for Doctor's Negligence,” Phil Galewitz, Feb. 13, 2015

 

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