I needed to have a physical examination done a couple of months ago, so I asked around and found the name of a respected internist in my community. When I appeared for my appointment several weeks later, I was given a clipboard with lots of documents to fill out and to sign.
One of the documents was a binding arbitration agreement. In effect, the doctor – whom I had not even met at this point – was asking me to agree to waive my Constitutional right to a jury trial in order to obtain health care from her. Because I am a lawyer and I understand why a patient should not be required to agree to binding arbitration, I was more than a little offended.
I told the nurse at the desk that no one had mentioned this to me when I made my appointment and that I objected to binding arbitration. She told me that the doctor couldn’t see me unless I signed the paperwork, so I did – knowing that I had 30 days to send a letter to the doctor rescinding the agreement.
I liked the doctor a lot. She seemed genuinely interested in me and my health care concerns. I was impressed by her thoroughness. She reviewed some lab work I’d had done with me and we settled on a treatment plan for a possible thyroid problem. She gave me a prescription and we agreed I would see her again in three months. She also referred me to another doctor for some routine testing I knew I needed.
When I returned to my office, I wrote a letter to her office, rescinding the binding arbitration agreement and three days later, I got a certified letter dismissing me as her patient. Her insurance company would not permit her to treat patients unless they agreed to waive their right to a jury trial, her letter said.