Medicine kind of sucks these days, for all the magic of life saving pills and procedures nothing can make you broke faster than the medical industry. As a lawyer we have multiple ethics rules covering what fees we can charge, and how they have to be reasonable and fair and nice etc. You know who doesn’t give a shit about billing ethics? Hospitals. They hide their prices, bill at insane rates, send bill collectors after people who are sick and can’t pay etc. Yet doctors are heroes in the world, and lawyers are the assholes. But I digress.
Here’s a scenario- you are pulled over for DWI, you assert your constitutional right to not give blood, the police ignore that and get a warrant from Judge Rubberstamp. The warrant comes with an order requiring the nurses to comply and help the police (so much for limited government, we’ve drafted nurses into law enforcement). Later, the suspect gets a bill for a few hundred bucks. That’s been happening more often lately, and it’s a chance to reflect on this intersection of law and medicine.
A few things-
1. Is holding someone down and forcefully taking their blood the basis of a contractual agreement to pay a hospital? If you are taken against your will to a hospital how are you bound to pay them?
2. I get why Parkland does it, why not? If someone pays, gravy. If not, send it to the credit agency. But if the police are going to turn local hospitals into defacto crime labs, shouldn’t they pay for the services?
3. This is a 4th Amendment right we are talking about. Taxing the assertion of Constitutional rights just feels wrong doesn’t it?
4. What if Parkland is out of network? Does Obamacare cover DWI blood draws? I don’t know. But what I do know is that the DPS lab only charges $160 bucks for a blood test, but the drawing alone can be 3-4 times that fee.
5. I haven’t heard about this in Rockwall or Kaufman County. So that’s cool.