The Dallas County indigent health care facility, Parkland Memorial Hospital, has been plagued by problems in treatment and supervision of health care providers in recent days.  The sad reality is that it is virtually impossible to secure social security disability benefits if you are not getting regular medical treatment. The Parkland PLUS program provides medical treatment to Dallas County residents on a sliding scale – virtually free if you are without income or resources.  So if you live in Dallas county Texas and are without medical insurance, Parkland is the only game in town.

But these recent horror stories coming out of Parkland Hospital are disconcerting.  Many of my clients now going to Parkland ask me “if they can stop” going to Parkland.  Obviously I cannot give that kind of advise.  But regardless of the bad press Parkland is getting, it remains true that if you are seeking social security disability benefits, and have no medical insurance, most Administrative Law Judges deciding Dallas cases will find the recent Parkland scandals to be a sufficient excuse for not seeking medical treatment.  A couple of thoughts:

  1. Medical treatment is inherently risky.  Mistakes, misdiagnosis, and poor medical treatment can happen anywhere.  Conversely I have seen many clients receiving excellent care at Parkland.
  2. Medical treatment “horror stories” (like amputating the wrong leg) get a lot of attention, understandably.  But they are still very rare, and the sheer tragedy of such mishaps often causes us to overestimate the risk we run in medical treatment.
  3. Parkland is under such intense scrutiny right now that I would expect the care provided there is the best it has ever been.
  4. The risks of not treating a medical condition vastly outweigh the risks of medical malpractice.