“Medical concierge,” also known as “boutique practice” and “retainer medicine”, is over 20 years old. The goal behind this form of medicine is to provide quality medical services that were formerly only able to be offered to affluent entertainers and the like. For instance, this field promotes limiting the number of patients that each doctor sees, increasing the number and length of house visits with those patients, lengthening the time available with patients during their appointments, and the overall goal of increasing the quality of health care.
Many doctors pursue the field of “medical concierge” to ensure that patients are properly treated, and provided with the time and attention that the medical profession is idealized to provide.
While it is easy to confuse the two, concierge medical practices differ from patient healthcare advocacy firms, such as PinnacleCare, in various respects. Concierge medical practice involve individuals that practice medicine. They are doctors who provide treatment to a limited number of patients for an annual fee. In addition, normally if these physicians refer a member to other doctors, the referrals are limited to their personal referral network.
Advocacy firms, however, do not actually provide the medical care but rather provide a sense of management over the healthcare. The staff of these firms normally includes social workers, nurses, and former health care administrators. Participants of advocacy firms research doctors and treatment centers, arrange appointment scheduling, organize medical records, arrange for access to high-end doctors and advocate what is best for each member. Sometimes, the advocacy firms are clients of the concierge medical practices, and then they work together to try and ensure quality care.
Issues could then arise as to whether and when the doctor-patient relationship is established and defined, and between whom it exists. Accordingly, questions of malpractice could become fuzzy. For instance, there are issues as to whether the advocacy firm’s doctor can be held legally liable for medical malpractice committed by a physician recommended by the advocacy firm/doctor for failing to obtain informed consent from a patient.
The advocacy firm/doctor could argue that the recommended doctor is an independent contractor for whom, under the general rule, they are not vicariously liable in the absence of a non-delegable duty or the engagement in an ultra-hazardous activity. The patient, on the other hand, might not expect that having received handsome compensation for advising and making recommendations, the advocacy doctor would have no legal responsibility for medical malpractice beyond making sure that the recommended physician was properly qualified.
This could become crucial if, as happens, an emergency develops in a foreign country and the US citizen/patient would not be able to obtain personal jurisdiction over the offending physician. Physicians who pursue “concierge medicine” have to be mindful of significant legislation that binds them. For instance, physicians must make sure not to “double bill” their clients and participating doctors must notify all patients about their decision to pursue this field, which in turn means that they will then have less clients and there will be an annual fee based service.
Congress has viewed “medical concierge” unfavorably, believing that the annual fees were illegal overcharges to the patient.
For 50 years spanning 3 generations, the personal injury lawyers at Levine & Slavit have handled medical malpractice cases in New York City, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island and surrounding areas, obtaining results for satisfied clients. If you or someone that you know has been harmed as a result of medical malpractice or a hospital or clinic’s negligence, consider your legal alternatives and contact Levine & Slavit, Esqs.