Asthma and the Law
Air pollution—indoors and outdoors—can create suffering for patients with asthma. To help protect individuals with respiratory problems, govenments at all levels have enacted clean air laws regulating everything from car emissions to tobacco smoke. Courts have also provided remedies for asthmatic victims of air pollution. Notably, part of the justification for a recent tobacco settlement was to pay for the care of patients with asthma whose condition was caused or exacerbated by smoking or second-hand smoke.
Improper or out-of-date asthma treatment can lead to malpractice claim. The standard of care is becoming a national standard based on the level of care that would be rendered by a specialist in the same or similar circumstances. Therefore, it is important for physicians to keep up with the literature and disease management protocols. Because many problems arise from patients not receiving or not understanding medical instructions, documented, informed consent is extremely important.
Asthma can be an expensive disease for physicians bearing financial risks under a management care contract. Accordingly, when negotiating medical care contracts, the asthma should be separately calculated and negotiated. Whenever physicians gain financially by rendering less care under a management care contract, there is a potential ethical dilemma. This dilemma can be resolved for asthma patients by prescribing appropriate disease management measures, which may entail short-term costs, especially pharmaceutical expenses, but in the end, will save money on the overall cost of the patients care. This chapter outlines available measures if health maintenance organization authorizers will not authorize the appropriate cure.
This chapter also discusses policies, especially those involving drug testing, and the need to harmonize those policies with the privacy rights of patients with asthma.
The Americans with Disabilities Act or the Federal Rehabilitation Act will protect individuals with asthma (especially those with severe cases) from job discrimination, and will ensure their access to insurance, although there is currently still a strong conflict regarding insurance access.
Finally, this chapter offers legal information for physicians who must render expert opinions regarding the scope of an asthmatic’s disability or its cause.
KeywordsChronic Fatigue Syndrome Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Malpractice Claim Reasonable Accommodation Care Contract
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.