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Patient Sues Physician for Honoring Her Fake ID

Discussion in 'General Residency Issues' started by southerndoc, May 4, 2004.

  1. southerndoc

    southerndoc life is good
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    This is absurb. A patient gets an abortion after presenting a fake ID to get the abortion, then sues the physician for honoring it. :rolleyes:

    Doctors may be liable for patients' fake IDs
    In the Courts. By Tanya Albert, AMNews staff. May 10, 2004.
    http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2004/05/10/prca0510.htm

    Some Texas physicians who provide abortions might be contemplating an in-office display of the "We Card Hard" sign often found in stores that sell alcohol and tobacco.

    At the very minimum, these doctors are likely to start taking a harder look at the identification cards patients use to prove they are 18, the age at which physicians are no longer required to tell parents their daughter has requested an abortion.

    In what's believed to be the first lawsuit of its kind, a Texas patient who presented a fake ID and the patient's father were allowed to go forward with a civil lawsuit against a physician who gave the girl an abortion without contacting her parents.

    Cherise Mosley Hughes first came into the clinic where Houston general practice physician Douglas Karpen, DO, works in the summer of 2000. She didn't have an ID, so the office staff turned her away, court records said. She later returned with an ID that said she was 18. It was not government-issued but did contain a birth date and Social Security number.

    Dr. Karpen said he didn't contact Mosley Hughes' parents because he had no reason to believe the girl was younger than 18.

    "It was good-looking ID," Dr. Karpen's lawyer Barbara L. Hachenburg said. "There are a lot of IDs that are not government-issued, for example, work and school IDs."

    Mosley Hughes received the abortion. In reality, her 18th birthday was still seven weeks away.

    Now married and a mother of two, Mosley Hughes, along with her father, sued Dr. Karpen and the Aaron Women's Medical Center in Houston. They argued that the ID was obviously fake and that the doctor should have seen through it.

    "The words 'Not a government document' were printed across the top," said Brent Haynes, one of the attorneys who represented Mosley Hughes and her father, Fredrick Mosley. "How many adults over 18 don't have a government-issued ID? You can't operate without it."

    Mosley Hughes and her father sued, saying the doctor and clinic did not use "due diligence" as required by law to determine Hughes' age.

    Texas is among the majority of states that require physicians to make reasonable efforts to notify parents before an abortion is performed if the girl is younger than 18 and has not gone to the court for a parental notification waiver. The statute also allows doctors who "intentionally" perform an abortion without parental notification to be charged criminally and face a fine as high as $10,000.

    The father and daughter argued that the doctor deprived Mosley Hughes of "the opportunity for parental counseling that the law is designed to provide," and her father wasn't given the opportunity "to counsel his daughter about the magnitude of the decision she was making and to offer her his guidance and love."

    Dr. Karpen argued that he did ask for an ID and that he received a believable one. He told jurors he shouldn't be punished when the girl committed fraud to receive the abortion.

    A Houston-area jury in April said there was no question that an abortion had been performed on a girl who was younger than 18, in violation of the Texas parental notification law. But it didn't award any money to Mosley Hughes or her father.

    It placed 90% of the blame on the girl. The other 10% of the blame was placed on the physician.

    In a sense, the case was a win for doctors because no money was awarded. "This was a frivolous lawsuit," Hachenburg said. "You can't commit fraud and then come into court and sue the people you deceived."

    But at the same time, it is a loss for physicians. Dr. Karpen had to spend time and money defending himself.

    Also, when the judge chose not to throw out the lawsuit, the stage was set for future lawsuits against physicians in Texas for not properly checking a girl's age. If someone brings a stronger case against a physician, a jury may be inclined to award money to that plaintiff.

    Haynes said Mosley Hughes and her father didn't bring the case for money. "They wanted to raise awareness of what was happening," he said.

    A girl may want to lie about her age because she worries about what her parents will think, so Mosley Hughes and her father wanted to ensure that doctors do a thorough job of checking IDs, Haynes said.

    Under Texas law, doctors who perform abortions on those younger than 18 have to make a reasonable attempt to contact a parent or guardian 48 hours before the procedure. That can be met several ways, including a letter, phone call or personal visit.

    Legal experts say physicians can most protect themselves from girls lying about their ages by insisting upon government-issued identification cards. If a physician is suspicious of the ID, he or she can take additional steps to try to verify the age, such as asking for a birth certificate.

    "Unfortunately, that can introduce an adversary element to the physician-patient relationship," said Paul McGreal, a law professor at South Texas College of Law in Houston. "But given that this type of lawsuit can be filed, a doctor may want to ask further questions."

    Hachenburg said new guidelines that went into effect in Texas in January also could help physicians protect themselves. Under state law now, women must sign an affidavit saying they are 18.

    Haynes said he's already turned down one case in which a parent and child wanted to file a similar lawsuit against a physician because it appeared that the doctor didn't violate the law. "If a doctor really exercises due diligence," he said, "a good plaintiff attorney is not going to bring a lawsuit."
     
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  3. mellantro

    mellantro Senior Member
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    Ugh, that is f----ed up! On one hand patients clamor on and on for their own rights and choices and decisions and get mad at doctor paternalism. And on the other hand, they sue because the doctor should have "known" better. How do you find the balance??!?!
     
  4. samsoccer7

    samsoccer7 Senior Member
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    These are the people that really piss me off. Do you want an abortion or not? Why can't people ever be satisfied? If the judge does anything but throw this out, it'll be a shame...
     
  5. SunnyS81

    SunnyS81 Senior Member
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    Possession of a fake id is a felony. I wonder if the girl got charges pressed on HER....then again it wasn't claiming to be govt issued......any md/jd's?
     
  6. flighterdoc

    flighterdoc Rocket Scientist
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    Wonder what would have happened if the Doc DIDNT accept the ID.

    This sounds like a family of "sue-ers".
     
  7. southerndoc

    southerndoc life is good
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    Yea really. If the doc didn't accept the ID, she'd probably try to sue for discrimination.

    It really does sound like it's a setup in a way. Thank God the jury didn't award her any money!
     
  8. cancer_doc

    cancer_doc Member
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    It's easy to take a sigh in knowing the fact that the doctor didn't have to pay any awards to the plaintiff, but we must not overlook the more significant and alarming fact: that the lawsuit, for reasons I just cannot comprehend, passed the initial deposition stage and actually went to trial. Bear in mind, that OPENS THE FLOOD GATES for further similar lawsuits. Precedents, especially established in a court of law, form strong roots, and allow future litigious vultures to settle on it's branches.

    This is what I can see happening... an underaged, pregnant teenage seeks an abortion. You refuse and tell her she needs parental consent. She goes outside and finds/pays some man/female to act as her parent; perhaps they even get a fake ID or other false documentation(s) to suggest they are related (I think it's easier for a person to change his name than his age in an ID). You proceed with the procedure. 2 years later she sues you for not recognizing her deception. You then have to spend your time and money to defend yourself. (BTW: is there a guideline to verify an individual's relationship with the patient? I hope there's something)

    I don't think this suit should ever have gone to court. The lesson is that we have to be more aggressive proactively and preemptively in both the litigational and legislative arenas. Why can't we counter-sue the lawyer and plantiff who appear to engage in frivilous lawsuits. Though it is difficult to reach a favorable outcome (like the majority of malpractice lawsuits), at least we create a little fear and trouble inthem- and perhaps they may even become so scared as to settle (reminds us of something, huh?). Additionally, we need to pressure legislation to prevent such lawsuits from getting pass the deposition and establish clearer guidelines on what is considered suitable for trial, rather allowing lawsuits such as this one to decide.

    If we don't protect ourselves now, we risk losing our ability as doctors to practice medicine based on scientific and evidence-based approaches to one that is indentured by legal nuiances. And ultimately, it is not doctors who lose, but the patients.
     
  9. docB

    docB Chronically painful
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    How about this one - Underage female come in for abortion. Presents fake ID. Eeeeeeevil doctor refuses to accept ID. Underage female goes out and has back alley abortion or uses that hanger that Whoopi Goldberg was waving around last week and, oh, lets say, suffers infection leading to sterility. Can she sue the doc for "forcing" her to seek other arrangements and depriving the world of her future progeny?
     
  10. beyond all hope

    beyond all hope Senior Member
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    isn?t there some way the doctors or government could countersue for frivolous (sp?) lawsuit? There has to be some method to make those who choose to bring forward such ridiculous suits pay for costing the public and the doctor such anguish.

    This may be the only way to stop the tide of obviously malignant suits from ever coming to the bargaining table, much less to the courtroom.
     
  11. Goober

    Goober Senior Member
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    It is easy to get ID which look very similar to real ones. Government issued? What people who make these fake IDs can duplicate that?

    These people who brought the lawsuit are an embarrassment to society. The daughter committed fraud and then sues because the doctor did not catch her fraud. What bunch of malarky. :thumbdown:
     
  12. DocWagner

    DocWagner Senior Member
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    The real problem is the MENTALITY of a society that continually takes NO RESPONSIBILITY for their own actions. A society in which lawyers cater to this type of thought process.
     
  13. edmadison

    edmadison 1K Member
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    Ding Ding Ding -- we have a winner. Unfortunately, the system rewards this behavior.

    1) beyond -- There is no cause of action to sue for a frivolous lawsuit. The rules of civil procedure do permit the judge to sanction attorney who bring such suits and award litigation costs, but this is virtually never done. You will also notice that the jury found in favor of the plaintiff and the judge did not throw the case out, thus its hard to argue that its truely frivolous. The doctor should have countersued for fraud.

    2) cancer doc -- precedents are truely only set by appelate courts. They are based on interpretations of law. Certainly another plaintiff's lawyer could cite this case as the basis for a suit, but the future court would not be bound by the earlier one. Also, it is well established that bad acts on the part of the plaintiff are not a bar to brining suit. In the olden days, the doctrine of contributory negligence barred a litigant from prevailing if they were even partially responsible. This was used by employers to win suits brought by employees. It was changed in the late 19th and early 20th century. The certainly is merit in the current rule (comparative negligence), but when somebody intentially misleads another person, they probably shouldn't get to sue them.

    3) sunny -- possession of a fake ID is a tricky question. Since the ID in question was noted not to be a government ID it does not fall within the Texas statutes I looked at. I suppose a case for criminal fraud could be brought against the girl.

    Finally, the doctor certainly bears some responsibility here. He took an ID that was clearly stated it was not a government ID.

    Ed
     
  14. southerndoc

    southerndoc life is good
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    In today's society, anything is possible. It wouldn't surprise me if some shark doesn't file this for his/her client in the near future.

    Regarding the mentality of society, I think our society's mentality has gone down the drain. It's amazing that this made it into the courtroom (yep juddson, frivolous suits do make it into the courtroom), and what's even worse is that the jury sided with the plaintiff somewhat.

    I will admit that I do not know *all* the facts of this case because I have not read the actual transcripts, but it certainly smells of being frivolous.

    Please see another thread in this forum (re: medical malpractice affects everyone).
     
  15. flighterdoc

    flighterdoc Rocket Scientist
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    Perhaps, but what assets do you think the kid/family have? Plus, more cash outflow to the lawyers to attempt it.

    The ONLY good thing in this case is that the kids family probably has to pay their own lawyer fees, unless the ESLB (evil slimey lawyer bastard) took it on contingency.
     
  16. BellKicker

    BellKicker Twisted Miler
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    I guess I'll play devil's advocate and say it:

    We don't know enough about this case to really comment on it.

    We don't know how the ID looked. We don't know how old she looked at the time. Wasn't anyone suspicious that she didn't have any ID at her first visit?

    I'm trying to imagine her dad's reaction when he found out - possibly 5 years later - what happened back then to his little teenage girl. Come on, the majority of teen girls are suicidal borderlines even before being pregnant with Billy-Bob's love child. If I were that father, I think my initial reaction might have been something like: "How could the doctor not know?".
     
  17. MacGyver

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    What does the law say?

    Does the law say that abortion clinics MUST take ONLY government issued IDs?

    IF so, then the doc is guilty.

    If not, then he is not guilty.

    Its really that simple. The lawyers like to spin it into something vastly more complex than it really is.
     
  18. southerndoc

    southerndoc life is good
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    Remember, the PATIENT also sued the physician. It wasn't just the patient's father who sued stating that the physician should have known and shouldn't have completed the abortion. The patient herself also sued.
     
  19. BellKicker

    BellKicker Twisted Miler
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    Yeah, that part is a little stinky but, again, we don't know the whole story.
     
  20. ADT

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    no, why do we not just sue the **** out of every lawyer who files a frivolous lawsuit...They can trump up ridiculous things to sue Drs for, why not simply sue them back...
     
  21. Fritz

    Fritz Senior Member
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    I think every time something like this is happens, the doctors in that state should go on strike for a week. Even the ER staff. I would be curious to see what happens. It is outrageous to see people trying to squeze money out of doctors, just because the doctors have a higher income than anyone else. Makes me want to go into forensics, at least my patients are going to be dead and they can't sue.
     
  22. jazz

    jazz Senior Member
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    makes me wonder... in our er, patients are registered up front. their dob is printed. i never check id or question it -- sometimes i wonder but what they are registered under is their age for all purposes. what about the under 18 individuals who come in with an adult who says that they're their father, mother, etc.... do other er's check id, confirmation... we take people's words on it. i mean if the patient says the individual with them is their father, and the guy say's that's his daugther... what if it turns out that is her older boyfriend... i mean, if people lie, why are we to be held accountable...
     
  23. southerndoc

    southerndoc life is good
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    I'm hoping the physician does sue.
     
  24. edmadison

    edmadison 1K Member
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    In order to file a suit, you need to have a cause of action. What would your cause of action be? Who will pay for the attorney to prosecute such a case?

    We call the suits frivolous, but the standard to reach a jury is very low. The problem is really frivolous suits, the problem is suits which are just barely not frivolous (if you excuse the horrible grammar). The other big problem is that the trier of fact (jury) often confuses emotion with fact.

    Ed
     
  25. flighterdoc

    flighterdoc Rocket Scientist
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    If the Patient was a minor, she couldn't (legally) sue, only her parents could (on her behalf).
     
  26. flighterdoc

    flighterdoc Rocket Scientist
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    I have a better idea - physicians should go on strike against lawyers. No medical treatment for them, or their ungodly spawn. Or politicians that are, were, or know lawyers.

    Lets see how long crap like this lawsuit continues.
     
  27. irlandesa

    irlandesa Senior Member
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    yeah, I guess we would have to have patients provide ID proving they are not lawyers or lawyer progeny.. :D

    I know an OB/GYN abortion provider who doesn't check ID's when his patients come in for the procedure (he says he "thinks" the hospital does) and was not aware that Massachusetts requires parental notification for minors to get an abortion until students told him. yikes, a lesson to all of us to watch our @$$.. My FP preceptor said that most physicians will be sued at some time, frivolous or not.. When he was working on L & D, he successfully delivered an 11-lb infant who was crowning at the time the mom came to the unit, and the baby was otherwise healthy except for shoulder dystocia which had no long-term effects. The mother, who had uncontrolled diabetes and who had received absolutely no prenatal care, leading to the macrosomia, got pissed and filed a lawsuit b/c of the shoulder dystocia. It took years to be settled. yup, this is what we're in for I fear..
     
  28. cancer_doc

    cancer_doc Member
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    I wonder would any trial lawyer represent a client to sue another trial lawyer for a frivilous lawsuit?
     
  29. avendesora

    avendesora Senior Member
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    This really is the crux of it, isn't it??

    "I deceived you, and damn you for letting me be such a good liar"

    "Damn you McDonalds for making me so hungry that I ate myself fat"

    You get the idea...

    It reall is societal.
     
  30. southerndoc

    southerndoc life is good
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    It's difficult finding them, but you can find lawyers to help you sue other lawyers. In the below example, this surgeon was profiled on a Fox News special about medical malpractice issues. The surgeon stated he had to do a lot of searching to find an attorney to take on his case. He won. The amount he won is undisclosed.

    http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2003/10/27/prsa1027.htm

    "Most recently, West Virginia thoracic surgeon Saad Mossallati, MD, in late 2002 settled a lawsuit he filed against an attorney who named him in a lawsuit because he was listed as consulting on a car crash patient who later died. Dr. Mossallati was attending to another patient at the time, but he spent four years and his insurance company spent $81,000 defending the case before it was dropped."
     

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