Widow sues medical doctor and training company

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BRT

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Since partitioning responsibility seems to be a dead end, how about a different spin on things... what actionable insights can be drawn, and what could have been done better that applies to more than just this particular case? I don't remember all the posts, but I vaguely remember someone suggesting the doctor probably not reading the complete medical form, so Idea 1: Forms should require doctor's signature on every page (if they don't already). What else?

I always read every page of the real estate contracts when they make me sign or initial each page.
 

fmerkel

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I do read that stuff.....and I hate it. I know, I know, supposedly it's to protect both sides of the 'agreement'. Trouble is.....it doesn't much, when there are people on either side that fail to take much heed on what they are getting into.
That said "what we are getting into" now days is so bleeding complicated that it is sometimes simply demoralizing.

I have never seen anyone on a dive charter actually read the waiver. I do, mostly because I want to see how that organization wrote it. As a dive Club President you become very aware that you can be sitting at home watching TV and end up in a lawsuit if someone in the Club dies. I've been though 2 complete re-writes of the Club waiver over the last 20 years. Oh, I've thought about waivers and liability long and hard. I do understand it. I also think it sucks.
 

BRT

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I do read that stuff.....and I hate it. I know, I know, supposedly it's to protect both sides of the 'agreement'. Trouble is.....it doesn't much, when there are people on either side that fail to take much heed on what they are getting into.
That said "what we are getting into" now days is so bleeding complicated that it is sometimes simply demoralizing.

I have never seen anyone on a dive charter actually read the waiver. I do, mostly because I want to see how that organization wrote it. As a dive Club President you become very aware that you can be sitting at home watching TV and end up in a lawsuit if someone in the Club dies. I've been though 2 complete re-writes of the Club waiver over the last 20 years. Oh, I've thought about waivers and liability long and hard. I do understand it. I also think it sucks.

If the waiver said the dive boat had the right to machine gun you in the water, and you signed it, it wouldn't hold up in court anyway. Same with the generic real estate contracts.

I used to sell cars on a contract that I wrote on a single page that everyone I sold to could clearly understand. I could translate the entire thing to Spanish for my Mexican customers. A lawyer eventually made a complaint and the dealer inspector came and told me I had to use a "legal" contract. So I do. Nobody reads it and nobody understands it in English or Spanish. I'm good with that.
 

Frontpointer1000

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It really sucks that this guy passed away. I'm sorry for his family and their loss. It sounds callous, but the truth is, he was going to die from something, it just happened to be diving.

Alot of interesting comments here - we all strive for closure and answers, which often causes us to point fingers, even if unwarranted.

Some brief observations/potential take home points:

1. The article is written based on the case as presented by the wife - so it is clearly biased in that direction, certainly many facts are missing. We owe it to all parties to withhold judgment and opinions until more data is provided. We don't even have half of the story yet.

2. I'm a doctor (the kind that went to medical school and writes prescriptions). I dive. I have a form of asthma. I read a lot about the science and physiology of diving. I WON'T SIGN ANY MEDICAL RELEASE FOR DIVING because I don't feel qualified to do so. Most physicians ate not qualified to fill out SCUBA release forms.

NOTE: I get asked to fill out release forms alot for all kinds of things. A few weeks ago a patient asked me to fill out some form for work. It was 23 pages long. Seriously. I told her no. I told her I can't spend the time to do that. It's unfair to me and my real patients to waste time on some form that some office manager deems necessary. That's immoral. It's also immoral to expect a non-diving specialist to be qualified to sign a release. I'm not talking about a doctor who dives, I'm talking about a doctor that specializes in dive medicine.

3. If there is a "YES" on any medical question, the doctor, student, and dive shop should, IMHO, call a DAN physician and discuss it with him/her.

4. The article mentions the pathologist's comments about the cause of death. No one can really say the SCUBA caused the death, it is simply associated with SCUBA. on the death certificate, you fill out the cause of death, then diseases the patient had that MAY have contributed to the death. Here you put any known illnesses. Asthma, cardiomyopathy, hypertension are easy ones - but are not the cause of death. I see nothing in the article that leads me to believe that asthma played a direct role in the unfortunate death of this person.

5. The NCBI article on asthma and diving published in hyperbaric medicine (above) is an interesting read if for no other reason than its giving fodder for discussion about clinical relevance. 24 subjects is essentially meaningless. They note statistical differences. That is a mathematical term. The real question we need answered is "SO WHAT?" Meaning, does this actually affect me when diving? The article clearly fails to prove that.

6. I solo dive. I ride and race motorcycles. I rock climb. I do plenty of stupid things (I'm not saying any of the above are stupid). I am going to die. I see people die all the time-sometimes as a direct result from decisions they've made, sometimes as complete accidents. When I do die, I hope my wife is grounded deeply enough to accept it peacefully instead of trying to place blame in a shallow attempt to find purpose in death.

7. None of us are qualified to sort this case out beyond individually deciding how we are going to dive better/live better.
 

boulderjohn

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3. If there is a "YES" on any medical question, the doctor, student, and dive shop should, IMHO, call a DAN physician and discuss it with him/her.
I am pretty sure a DAN staff member will not provide a signature on a form, although they will give advice on the relation of that medical issue to diving. What they will do is recommend a physician in your area who is knowledgeable about diving.
 

kelemvor

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I am pretty sure a DAN staff member will not provide a signature on a form, although they will give advice on the relation of that medical issue to diving.
Even that is unlikely in my limited experience. I'm a DAN member who called about the seemingly simple topic of seasickness medications and diving. They wouldn't give me an answer to my simple questions on the subject.

How common are doctors who specialize in diving medicine? I see folks on SB (as above) tell people to seek out such a doctor for evaluations all the time. However, the only ones I've actually heard of work in the dwindling number of hospitals who treat DCS with a chamber or at Duke. DAN doesn't even maintain information for dive physician referrals. The link on the page that mentions such a thing returns a 404 error. I ask in earnest, is a doctor who specializes in diving something that the average person can expect to find without getting onto an airplane? Living in Florida, I'm sure I could track one down. I'm wondering if it's a myth along the lines of the DAN giving medical advice myth.
 

boulderjohn

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I am not talking about a diver who specializes in dive medicine; that would be very rare. I am talking about doctors in your area who are knowledgeable about diving. Maybe my experience is out of date. They sent me a list of 5-6 doctors in my area when I asked for it. That was 7-8 years ago, though.
 

Hawkwood

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I am not talking about a diver who specializes in dive medicine; that would be very rare. I am talking about doctors in your area who are knowledgeable about diving. Maybe my experience is out of date. They sent me a list of 5-6 doctors in my area when I asked for it. That was 7-8 years ago, though.

I lead a very charmed life. I have no issues accessing folks who are knowledgable about diving.

My family doctor, dentist, dental surgeon, and dermatologist all dive. No such luck with the oncologist and endocrinologist, though.
 

DandyDon

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Even that is unlikely in my limited experience. I'm a DAN member who called about the seemingly simple topic of seasickness medications and diving. They wouldn't give me an answer to my simple questions on the subject.
Nope, that could easily be viewed as practicing medicine. Legal suits can be such a pain even if you win.
 

uncfnp

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NOTE: I get asked to fill out release forms alot for all kinds of things. A few weeks ago a patient asked me to fill out some form for work. It was 23 pages long. Seriously. I told her no. I told her I can't spend the time to do that. It's unfair to me and my real patients to waste time on some form that some office manager deems necessary. That's immoral. It's also immoral to expect a non-diving specialist to be qualified to sign a release. I'm not talking about a doctor who dives, I'm talking about a doctor that specializes in dive medicine.
I am a NP not a MD but I get asked to do fitness, releases and return to duty forms almost daily. Most of them I do. Some few I refuse. Am I an authority on each activity I certify? Of course not. But most of it is just good exam and judgement.

I think a PCP is the best choice to complete the RSTC exam. Ideally they know the patient and their history. And hopefully actually take the time to talk with their patient about their health and risks. The rest is just reading the form and consulting specialist if indicated. Including DAN if needed. I think the info they are willing to share with a healthcare provider is probably a little different then the advice they may give the lay caller.

But I do sympathize with you. It is a tough call in this litigious society. But you can do everything right and still get nailed. So one has to draw the line somewhere. I just do the best I can and keep my professional liability insurance UTD.
 
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