From time to time, we conduct surveys to gauge the interests and concerns of our readers. Not surprisingly, the topic of malpractice/liability is always near the top of the list. I can't imagine what it must be like to have to defend yourself in a malpractice case.
Recently a friend sent me the URL of a company called MDinaBox.com, a service that lawyers can use to consult in real time with licensed physicians in India. It has implications for malpractice cases because Internet tools make it possible for a doctor in New Delhi, for example, to listen in on the testimony of the defense's expert physician during trial or deposition. The Indian doctor can immediately criticize the testimony by sending the plaintiff's lawyer instant messages.
"MDinaBox doctor's are not afraid to critique other doctors," the Web site notes. "They enjoy it. Now you can have a team of professionals you can afford!"
The Internet is certainly making the world a lot smaller. The lawyer who started MDinaBox.com, Dorothy Clay Sims, says on her site that she began the company out of frustration in dealing with physician witnesses. Her site claims that doctors in other countries are more available, less arrogant, and inexpensive.
The Web site also provides a video dramatization of how the service works. The doctor claims that Sims' client is malingering. But, thanks to the advice she receives from a physician in India, Sims refutes the expert witness, who appears frustrated by Sims' questioning and contradicts himself.
Advances in Internet technology are creating some exciting opportunities for physicians to access a wealth of information and network with colleagues in distant regions. But others are using the Web to further their own agendas. I suspect MDinaBox.com is just the tip of the iceberg, and that many others will find ways to use technology to scrutinize healthcare.
Rick Johnson is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.