Conventional wisdom is (and a recent Time article suggests) that many doctors have poor handwriting (though at least one 2001 study attempted to shoot down that theory by concluding that doctors’ handwriting is no worse than non-doctors). In fact, a 2001 study entitled "Medication errors related to potentially dangerous abbreviations" pointed to examples where the use of certain abbreviations led to patient illnesses and deaths.
A new lawsuit filed this week in U.S. District Court in Connecticut puts a whole new spin on the issue.
In McConnell v. Pisciotta, medical doctor Bruce McConnell claims that he was improperly suspended from work at the Connecticut Mental Health and Addiction Services for five days last month because his supervisors "did not approve of certain abbreviations the plaintiff had used in writing documents."
He goes on to allege that other employees who have used similar abbreviations have not been suspended.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. What in the world is the legal claim that he is raising? What category of claims do "Suspensions for Use of Abbreviations" fall under?
According to the Plaintiff, it is a violation of the 14th amendment of the United States Constitution:
[T]he defendants have irrationally and intentionally treated the plaintiff differently from others identically situated to the plaintiff, in violation of the plaintiff’s right to equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution as enforced through Sections 1983 and 1988 of Title 42 of the United States Code.
The Complaint is fairly bare of other details such as what the abbreviations were for. (Presumably for something other than LOL and IMHO.) And I surmise that there is much more to this matter than just "abbreviations" (just as readers of this blog are reminded that the complaint contains only ALLEGATIONS, not facts.)
But from my experience, it’s one of the more unusual constitutional claims out there. It has been assigned to Judge Mark Kravitz, a very bright jurist on the bench.
Anyone else aware of any unusual 14th amendment cases out there arising from employment claims?