Why should you NOT sign an Arbitration agreement before a medical procedure or examination?

In Ask Erin by Erin PolisanoLeave a Comment

More likely than not when you go to a medical examination of any kind or arrive at a doctor’s office and/or facility to undergo a procedure or surgery, you are given the “typical” clipboard of papers to fill out. These papers are very rarely explained to you. Most people, not knowing any better, just go ahead and sign them and return them to the receptionist. DO NOT DO THIS! Nobody wants to sue their doctor as they trust their doctor, but sometimes it is your only recourse. One simple mistake could leave you blind or disabled in some manner and your life will have changed forever due to the doctor’s mistake and/or negligence. Doctors are held to a very high standard of care and it is their responsibility to hold up this standard. Therefore, it is important to read and understand all the papers you sign, especially when one of them is literally denying you of your constitutional right to a just trial of your peers.

Why? Most doctors “throw in or slip in” what is known as a “Physician/Patient Arbitration Agreement”. Yes, they sneak it in there with the other papers such as a questionnaire or HIPPA form. By signing this, you essentially waive your right to sue the doctor and/or the facility in a court of law and waive your right to a jury trial. You do not want to do this!

Let me tell you why in more detail: An arbitration clause is a clause in a contract that requires the parties to resolve their disputes through an arbitration process. Although such a clause may or may not specify that arbitration occur within a specific jurisdiction, it always binds the parties to a type of resolution outside of the courts, and is therefore considered a kind of forum selection clause.

At the very least ask the receptionist, or whoever is in charge, if this form is mandatory or optional. If it is optional DO NOT SIGN it. If it is mandatory, you are signing it at your own peril. In the event something goes wrong or you do not survive the procedure, etc. this will leave your loved ones with no recourse to sue the doctor and/or facility.

Basically, doctors use Arbitration agreements to escape jury trials and it is rare that the arbitrator selected is impartial. If the doctor denies you treatment if you do not sign the agreement, RUN! There are plenty of other providers.

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