Sacramento Hospital Tries To Force Arbitration On Family In Wrongful Death Case, Part 8 of 9

It is worth noting that situations similar to those described in this wrongful death case could just as easily occur at any of the healthcare facilities in the area, such as Kaiser Permanente, UC Davis Medical Center, Mercy, Methodist, or Sutter.

(Please also note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this personal injury action and its proceedings.)

As the Wheeler court made clear, even a patient who arrives at a hospital at his doctor’s direction, under non-emergency circumstances will not be held to terms in a standardized, adhesive admission form that go beyond what the patient could reasonably expect to find in such a document absent a clear showing that he or she was made fully aware of such terms.

The Court stated: The application of adhesion contract principles to an arbitration clause in a contract for medical services presents distinct problems concerning the patient’s awareness of the contractual provision and his understanding assent thereto. As Professor Henderson points out in his comprehensive article entitled Contractual Problems in the Enforcement of Agreements to Arbitrate Medical Malpractice, supra, 58 Va.L.Rev. 947, at page 987: Given the distinctive nature of the medical services transaction, the use of a standardized form runs the risk of failing to satisfy the policy of awareness.

The arbitration provision, viewed from the perspective of the patient, is indeed subsidiary to the primary exchange of medical services for an undertaking of payment after consenting to medical procedures, the contract purchaser of medical services may fairly assume that no obligations other than that of payment are imposed. Absent some guidance by the medical entity, the patient has little reason to know anything at all about arbitration, let alone that the tendered document requires it. Nor should the medical entity ordinarily expect a patient to read or even to understand a broad arbitration clause. Id at 357-358.

For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.

The same rationale undeniably applies to contractual terms describing the legal relationships and liability arrangements between the hospital and the doctors practicing within its walls-which may be even more unfamiliar to the average patient seeking hospital admission, as recognized by the court in Stanhope, supra, 54 C.A.2d at 146; see also Wheeler, supra at 360-361 (emphasizing, “… if the language of such provision is too complicated or subtle for an ordinary layman to understand, he should also be given a reasonable explanation of its implications.” ). (See Part 9 of 9.)

For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.

Contact Information