Sunday, July 06, 2003

Good samaritan law. Last year the Austin Court of Appeals stumbled badly in the MacIntyre case by almost reading the Good Samaritan Act out of the law. Admittedly, the provision they construed was not a model of clarity. Texas' Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 74.001 states that the law's immunity doesn't apply if the "good samaritan" was acting "for or in expectation of remuneration," and it goes on to say that a person acts "in expectation of remuneration" if that person "would ordinarily . . . be entitled to receive . . . remuneration for administering care under such circumstances . . . even if the person waives or elects not to charge or receive remuneration on the occasion in question." Actually, not a bad idea, but under what conceivable set of circumstances would a responding physician not be entitled to remuneration under some legal theory any time he or she responds to an emergency? Taken at face value, this provision all but writes physicians out of the law, which can't be what the Leg intended to do. The Austin court read the plain language of the statute, however, and said there was at least a triable factual question as to whether the responding physician was entitled to receive remuneration for delivering the plaintiff's baby, even though the defendant's deposition testimony was that he didn't bill for his services, he had never billed for such services, he regarded billing for such services to be unethical, and he knows of no physician who does bill for such services. On June 26, the Texas Supreme Court reversed the Austin court in a unanimous opinion, McIntyre v. Ramirez. It took some fancy footwork to get around the admittedly plain language of the statute, but they got it right. Meanwhile, the 78th Texas Legislature recently amended the Good Samaritan Act. Section 10.01 of H.B. 4, the med mal reform law, completely rewrote chapter 74, retitled it "Medical Liability," and stuck the Good Samaritan Act (renamed "Emergency Care") in subchapter D (§§ 74.151-.154), making it clear that "being legally entitled to receive remuneration for the emergency care rendered shall not determine whether or not the care was administered for or in anticipation of remuneration." This was a lot of effort to fix a law that should have been better in the first place, eh?
posted by tommayo, 9:48 AM

Health care law (including public health law, medical ethics, and life sciences), with digressions into constitutional law, poetry, and other things that matter