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"Doctor program": A question for the physicians here...

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
A number of the local hills have a "doctor program". You carry a radio, and if anyone gets injured, you see them. In exchange, you and your family get a season's pass. It seems like a great deal, especially as I'm happy to help anyone who needs it.

My principal concern is liability. Have any of the doctors here on the forum participated in such a program? Any thoughts about pros and cons? I know it is too late to sign up this season, but I'm already planning ahead.
post #2 of 14
I have never heard of this. None of my regular hills have anything like this, so no opinion one way or the other.
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
I had never heard of it either until my ski instructor mentioned it. Now I know of two places that do this.

The question is, even if the liability insurance is great, do I really want to be "on call" when I'm skiing. My husband is really pushing me to do it, because from his point of view, it's "free season's pass, woo hoo!"
post #4 of 14
Liability seems like it would be way too high. Good Samaritan laws prob wouldn't apply as you are getting reimbursed for your being "on call". Why not do an extra day or weekend call/moonlighting and make the extra $$$ to buy the season pass with no strings attached? How much is a season pass where you ski? $479 here gets you five mt's.

Also would you want to be running a code on the mt or on the sled down the mt? Treat major internal trauma with massive bleeding and then deal with the family on the slopes? Or would you just like to ski and enjoy your day w/o being on-call?
post #5 of 14
When I lived in Washington Crystal Mt. had something like this, but not nearly as generous. You signed up with the patrol in the morning and they gave you a free pass for the day. I doubt that liability is any more of an issue than what you already do in your practice, as long as the care you render is (1) within the scope of your expertise and (2) free and as a volunteer in an emergency, so it may come under the provisions of the Good Samaritan acts in most states. (I am a doctor, not a lawyer, however!). I am not aware of any place that does this here in CO.
post #6 of 14
I rode a lift at Copper with a guy who was on that program. He mentioned that he got passes for him and his family and that the work was actually not a lot.

According to him, they only called him for the more serious injuries, since regular ski patrol can handle most minor injuries. On top of that, most injuries happen at the end of the day so he mostly had hassle-free mornings.
post #7 of 14
Mt. Baker has a doctor on duty, at least they did last season on a ski school Saturday.
post #8 of 14
dp, how is the care free if they receive a pass for their work? I'm not a lawyer either, but I see this as being paid for your services.
post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by bumpdad View Post
dp, how is the care free if they receive a pass for their work? I'm not a lawyer either, but I see this as being paid for your services.
One can argue that a pass is necessary to attend your duties, hence not payment but just a tool for volunteering.

EDIT: Didn't think about the passes for the rest of the family.
post #10 of 14
what Simon said (Simon Says??, but I agree that the passes for the rest of the family could pose a problem. I think that the real bottom line is- are you trained and expert at what you are expected to do there? If so, I don't think there is much to worry about. If you are an obstetrician and aren't adept at trauma care, well, that's another matter. Nevertheless, most of what they wanted you there for was for things like general assessments, prescription of analgesics, airway skills, etc- the patrol took care of fracture and c-spine stabilization, etc, but sometimes they needed help until the chopper landed.
post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by bumpdad View Post
Also would you want to be running a code on the mt or on the sled down the mt? Treat major internal trauma with massive bleeding and then deal with the family on the slopes? Or would you just like to ski and enjoy your day w/o being on-call?
That's not how it works. The MD is on call to be paged back to the aid building when needed. On hill care is provided by the patrollers.

The MD works under NPS. The system works well, and is open not only to MD's but also to PM's. Keep in mind that the minimum transport time to a hospital here is 1.5 hours. Often the MD is responsible for triaging to determine whether to call in private BLS transport, medic unit or med-evac.

I know a few of the docs at Baker, and they all like the program.
post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bumpdad View Post
Liability seems like it would be way too high. Good Samaritan laws prob wouldn't apply as you are getting reimbursed for your being "on call". Why not do an extra day or weekend call/moonlighting and make the extra $$$ to buy the season pass with no strings attached? How much is a season pass where you ski? $479 here gets you five mt's.

Also would you want to be running a code on the mt or on the sled down the mt? Treat major internal trauma with massive bleeding and then deal with the family on the slopes? Or would you just like to ski and enjoy your day w/o being on-call?
There is much wisdom in what you say. On the one hand, yes I could just buy the pass outright. On the other, it would be a way to help folks who urgently need you, and be a part of the mountain community and not just another guest/gaper. I wouldn't be doing it for the money, my husband's enthusiasm notwithstanding.

I guess I see it as being a doctor in an airplane. You're in a remote place, and if you're able to help, it's your civic duty.
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry_Morgan View Post
I know a few of the docs at Baker, and they all like the program.
That's what I'd heard.
post #14 of 14
I don't know how it works up there, but we have a similar program at Alpine Meadows. It more or less runs under the auspices of the Volunteer Ski Patrol, but not really. We have 1st Aid at Alpine, but no clinic (Squaw on the other hand has a clinic with paid docs in it, and can treat patients - we ship them to the hospital for x-rays or any real treatment, and we don't dispense meds other than tylenol/advil).

Like Ski Patrol, its a volunteer program. The docs will sometimes be called to a wreck on the hill, but more often than not, just meet us (patrol) in first aid if we ask for them. They'll do some basic things like re-set a dislocated shoulder if they feel its advisable, or clear someone to be released from a backboard. They really don't render treatment, and as I understand it, their liability is covered by the mountain as long as they are on duty.

The docs are not trained in handling sleds so if they're first on scene at a wreck, they invariably call ski patrol for packaging & shipping services back to 1st aid.

The docs are great to have on the hill. Mostly its a pretty laid-back job for them and they enjoy the same benefits as ski patrol, without the physical demands or hill-prep and maintenance responsibilities. They don't open the hill and they don't do sweep so they don't have to be on duty until the lifts open to the public, and they're done at 4 when we shut down. I think that patients appreciate getting a "real doctor's" opinion on some injuries, rather than just patrol or the nurse in first aid. I know that when I tore my achilles a few seasons ago, it was nice to have a doc there to give a definitive diagnosis, and to tell me that I would be fine waiting a day to see my regular ortho, rather than having to deal with it immediately at the local hospital.

I assume they also enjoy the nice tax benefits of contributing your time to a non-profit volunteer organization, but I'm not sure of that. Volunteer ski patrollers get to deduct ski-related expenses from our taxes (e.g. ski lease, mileage, some equipment). But even without the tax benefits, free passes for the family isn't a bad deal. And I think we even let them use the ski patrol lift line.
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