The Idaho Senate voted 31-3 Thursday in favor of legislation that could protect physicians when they informally offer advice with another doctor about a patient.
Sen. Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, said there have been recent lawsuits in Idaho and Oregon in which people sued doctors who informally consulted to their primary physician. Hill called the brief conversations “curbside consults” or a professional courtesy, and said the threat of lawsuits has led some doctors to stay quiet when they are asked their opinion. “This has caused some of this help to dry out,” Hill said. He said such advice is crucial in small towns in Idaho. “It’s helpful in emergency situations, but it’s really helpful for our rural doctors,” he said.
Hill said the legislation would create a safe harbor for informal consultations and that other states have similar exemptions from lawsuits. That safe harbor would apply for a consulting physician that hadn’t examined a patient and wasn’t paid for sharing a professional opinion.