Last year, Jessie Harrell went to see her gynecologist for a routine appointment. She’d been seeing Dr. Tim Baird for 14 years, ever since she showed up at the hospital in labor five weeks early. He’d been on call that morning, and she’d been reassured by his calm demeanor, even as he delivered her first child via an emergency cesarean section.
But this time, right before Harrell’s visit, a staff member in Dr. Baird’s office in Jacksonville, Fla., called and asked her to watch a video on the medical group’s website. She clicked a link and saw an attractive actress in an immaculate office explaining a new policy. All of Dr. Baird’s patients, Harrell learned, needed to sign a form agreeing to “binding arbitration,” a legal concept that meant she was waiving her right to a jury trial in the event of medical malpractice.