This is an actual headline from an October 23, 2018 post on “Tennessean”, which is part of the USA Today Network.
Apparently, the doctor borrowed $300,000 some time ago from a long-time patient who was also a friend and the administrator at the doctor’s clinic. When the patient later requested repayment, the doctor diagnosed her with dementia in an apparent attempt to escape the debt. The doctor forwarded the diagnosis to the patient’s daughter, who in turn forwarded the letter to the patient’s financial company. The patient was then denied access to her assets.
The doctor later admitted that the diagnosis of dementia was based solely “on observation”, and that she did not use any testing methods or obtain a second opinion.
A later assessment by a psychologist stated that the patient had no indication of dementia.
As a result of disciplinary action that was brought against her, the doctor voluntarily retired her licence.
In an interview with the Tennessean, the doctor said that she was “set up” by a vindictive patient, and that she retired after state attorneys “presented her with an unwinnable legal case.” The doctor said that she borrowed the money 20 years ago and that she had been making repayments.
The doctor said that the patient did in fact “exhibit erratic behavior and signs of memory loss”. She said that the patient “later misled the psychologist so the dementia diagnosis would not be confirmed.”
What is not clear from the report is how the doctor could have expected to avoid the debt by having the patient declared incapable. Surely the patient’s daughter or someone else on her behalf could have taken steps to enforce the debt. That is, however, assuming that they knew about it.
A takeaway is to ensure that your legal and financial affairs are in order and are well documented, so that someone can step in and protect your assets and enforce your rights in the event that you are found to be incapable, legitimately or not.
Another takeaway may be to be careful when getting medical assistance in Tennessee. The headline to another story posted October 11, 2018 reads: “This pain clinic nurse gave a patient 51 pills a day. And she kept her licence.” (For the record, the pills consisted of 32 tablets of methadone, 8 Roxicodone, 4 Soma, and 6 Xanax throughout the day, topped off with 1 Ambien.)
Have a great weekend.
The estate trustee of a deceased doctor has to secure that doctor’s medical records. Standing in the shoes of the deceased doctor, the executor of his or her estate assumes the legal obligation that the doctor had to safeguard the privacy of his or her patients. But, as reported online in the Globe and Mail over the weekend, the Saskatchewan Privacy Czar, Gary Dickson, has raised concerns over the perceived failings of executors of such estates in his province.
As quoted in the Globe and Mail, Gary Dickson states that "A trustee has to take responsible measures to safeguard information…generally that means records being locked away in a place that somebody else doesn’t get access to." Notwithstanding this expectation, Mr. Dickson details various examples of medical records being abandoned or, in one case, being released for profit.
As in Ontario, it appears that the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan has bylaws that address the situation of a doctor discontinuing practice but not the situation wherein an estate trustee assumes custody of the records.
The duty of the estate trustee to the patients of the deceased doctor is likely of no concern to the beneficiaries. Accordingly, it would be interesting to consider how the beneficiaries would view a claim by an executor for a special fee for securing these records.
David Morgan Smith
David Morgan Smith – Click here for more information on David Smith.
Listen to the Health Care Consent Act.
This week on Hull on Estates, Megan Connolly and Sean Graham review the Golubchuk case out of Manitoba and discuss the Health Care Consent Act of Ontario.