A doctor is sued, and blogs his malpractice trial

An emergency physician recently concluded his malpractice trial, and is blogging about it.

Sound familiar? Well, this isn’t the first time it happened. In 2007, pediatrician Flea live-blogged his malpractice trial, which wasn’t a good idea for him, and indeed, became a media circus.

Prominent emergency physician blogger WhiteCoat is diving into the same waters, albeit with a disclaimer saying that the trial has already ended, and also, does not need to worry about privacy laws, according to a plaintiff’s attorney.

Part one of the story is already up:

Once I had read the chart, I felt the need to validate the care I provided. I spent the rest of the day in the medical library reading through all the sources I could find about the patient’s diagnosis and about management of patients in shock. The more that I read, the more that I thought my care was entirely appropriate. I got angry. If I missed something, that’s one thing. But we diagnosed a very obscure problem and provided excellent care. I couldn’t wait to see what the “expert” said that I should have done different.

It promises to be a fascinating look at the byzantine world of our malpractice system, and required reading for both doctors and lawyers alike.

Some are wondering if it’s unethical to blog a malpractice trial. WhiteCoat has an answer for that, defiantly saying, “Go for it. The more discussion, the better. If this series is what it takes to bring the issues involved in medical blogging to the next level, I’ll be the fall guy. I won’t live my life in fear of what some evil attorney might sue me for.”

I can’t wait for part two next week.

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  • nyc doc

    How can discussing a closed case [or for that matter, an open case] be unethical?
    The patient opened all the secrets before God and man in the trial. The patient made the decision to waive his/her right to confidentiality. The patient decided opening the hidden places was the right thing to do, or the best thing under the circumstances. Ethically [and legally], the doctor is following the patient’s lead.
    Genies do not go back into bottles. Secrets cannot be called secret once divulged.

  • Dr. Mary Johnson

    It’s not such a novel idea, Kevin.

    I did not blog about the one time I’ve been sued, but in the wake of what happened to Flea, I also blogged about it (albeit not in excruciating detail) after the case was dismissed (in my favor).

    http://drjshousecalls.blogspot.com/2007/05/fear-not-picking-up-gauntlet-in-medical.html

    I also say go for it (on my blog this week, I’m acutally lecturing the North Carolina Medical Board about what it’s going to take to generate real debate & discussion on its website)! Truth to power and all that.

    Come on down and enjoy the show!

  • KW Esq

    Agree w/NYC doc: Once you file a complaint (starting the litigation) it becomes public record and a de facto waiver of confidentiality regarding issues in that case. Therefore, a plaintiff should expect that relevant personal background and information can and will be exposed in a public forum. In a recent case we had TV news cameras in our courtroom so what’s the difference?

  • GG Freeman

    I also agree that once you file that malpractice lawsuit you are saying two (maybe three) things.

    1) I think I was wronged
    2) I think I deserve some cash
    3) I will fight PUBLICLY for my rights

    You can guarantee that the lawsuit will be registered as a complaint against the physician and freely searchable for all to see that it occurred. It should NEVER be allowed for a plaintiff in a malpractice lawsuit to be anonymous for this reason. They have to assume a “profile risk” that is commensurate with the physician’s, in my opinion.

  • arf

    I say all trials, and all settlements should be public record. No confidentiality.

    Well, minors, I’m sure there will still be exceptions.

    My opinion and about four bucks gets you a latte these days.

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