George Breen, a Member of the Firm in the Health Care and Life Sciences and Litigation practices, in the Washington, DC, office, was quoted in an article titled "Make a Stand with Hospital Paperwork."

Following is an excerpt:

As scary is it might be to go to a hospital in an emergency, most people do not regard it as similar to getting arrested—a situation where your instinct would be to obtain the advice of a lawyer.

Yet when you go into a hospital, you are put in a situation where you have to sign a detailed contract -- sometimes in a hurry, sometimes just with swift officiousness that skips over the details with a series of "initial here" and "initial there" requests. But do you have any idea what you were signing, or the implications if something were to go wrong? You might have actually waived a constitutional right.

In that stack of papers you are handed are often sections that include agreements that you absolve the hospital of liability should something go wrong (because those providing care are contractors), and that you agree to choose an arbitrator to resolve any disputes instead of going to court. ?...

There are advantages to both sides in arbitration," said Breen, who defends healthcare companies. ?...

Breen agrees that hospitals would still have to treat someone who refused to sign those clauses -- as long as they were there for a true emergency. It is not enough to simply be in the ER.

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