I’ve blogged about Holland America’s responsibility for the health care provided on board its ships. This blog is a little bit different.
I think everyone would agree that curative treatment should be a health care providers’ top priority. But review of the records in numerous Holland America cases suggests that health care providers on board Holland American vessels place equal emphasis on documenting facts that give Holland America a leg up on the passenger should the passenger file a claim.
Holland America providers also appear to be the first-line of the carrier’s risk management program. Not only are medical records peppered with comments designed to assist Holland America in subsequent litigation, but they also include assessments of whether the customer’s pain, disappointment of being injured, etc. will turn into an actual claim or lawsuit. For instance, it’s not uncommon to find in either medical records produced by the ship’s doctor or one of its nurses indicating that the patient has not mentioned “claim” or “suit” yet but that follow up with the passenger might be appropriate.
It seems only fair if Holland America is going to treat its medical personnel as independent contractors and disclaim liability for their negligence that they should in fact be true independent contractors and that medical records developed on board the vessel should not be available to Holland America except through discovery.