Since Canada came along

Over email, some far-flung EM colleagues and I were discussing a case, where an elderly but generally healthy man developed a fever, went to an emergency department, had blood cultures drawn (as well as other labs, films and urine). Ultimately the old man was discharged home.

A few days later, on a weekend, a positive blood culture report (gram negative rods) prompted another ED attending on duty to call the patient at home. Over the phone, the patient said he felt fine; back to normal, no worse for wear. The ED attending considered the matter closed.

On Monday, the primary care doc reviewed the case, and, with ID, admitted the patient (who still felt fine) to the hospital for monitoring and IV antibiotics. Apparently a nastygram was sent to the weekend ED attending, as well, citing some kind of policy that gram negative rods can't be ignored.

My friend, the Canadian Doctor, commented:
This is ridiculous.  Because of the "unique" medico-legal climate in the US, there will never be an incentive for any physician to endorse conservative, less aggressive management.  Without the support of colleagues from other specialties for anything but aggressive knee-jerk responses, patients suffer the consequences of a peer-pressured physician environment where we must all cave to the most conservative (brainless) approach.  While I am comfortably protected in Canada (and its different set of imperfections, of course), I hope that this American death spiral of false logic and spineless non-decision making is arrested soon by some tort reform and financial accountability.
In the past I've really tried to shy away from policy discussions on this blog. There are already great sites for that sort of thing, and I don't want my words taken out of context or brought back to haunt me.

But I did tell my Canadian friend that his emailed paragraph was delicious enough to deserve a wider audience. With a few minor alterations, he's ok'd its appearance, here.