When Donna Helen Crisp, a 59-year-old nursing professor, entered a North Carolina teaching hospital for a routine hysterectomy in 2007, she expected to come home the next day. Instead, Crisp spent weeks in a coma and underwent five surgeries to correct a near-fatal cascade of medical errors that left her with permanent injuries. Desperate for an explanation, Crisp, who is also a lawyer, said she repeatedly encountered a white wall of ...

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Anyone watching daytime or late-night cable TV has to notice that every third commercial is for a toxic tort. As my wife had breast cancer, one, in particular, caught my eye. In it, the claim was made that: "If you suffered from permanent hair loss due to chemotherapy, you might have a claim because less toxic treatment was available." This struck a chord with me because my wife was in ...

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In the mid-1970s, malpractice lawsuits and skyrocketing jury awards caused commercial insurance companies to raise physicians’ malpractice rates by as much as 400 percent. The practice of medicine was deemed to be “uninsurable.” Thousands of physicians faced cancellation of their policies. As a result, doctors came together to form their own companies to provide affordable and sustainable coverage. However, today’s physicians need more. We spoke with more than 800 doctors, practice ...

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A study of over 890,000 Medicare beneficiaries shows that states with malpractice environments unfavorable to physicians do not see improved postoperative outcomes for 11 different types of mostly elective major operations. States with higher general surgery malpractice insurance premiums had significantly more episodes of postoperative sepsis, pneumonia, acute renal failure, and gastrointestinal bleeding. Those with higher numbers of paid claims per 100 physicians had more postoperative myocardial infarctions, surgical site ...

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Two doctors I work with were recently asked to testify in court. I knew it was a case involving domestic violence and I knew I wanted to see what it was like to testify: One day I’d like to work with families in the foster care system, and that will likely mean having to testify in court. So I asked my clerkship director, and with her support, the clerkship coordinator ...

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Most of the lawsuits I deal with have more than one named defendant. For example, the plaintiff (typically a deceased patient’s next of kin) might sue a hospital, a nursing home, and the attending physician at each facility. Sometimes they go a bit further and may even include the administrator, the director of nursing, and individual HCPs, such as the wound care nurse or the registered dietitian nutritionist. When a lawsuit ...

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I read it again this week, and I wonder why the editors of our medical journals continue to perpetuating this falsehood. An article in a prominent journal stated again that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. We all know this is not the case, and yet editors continue to let this be stated in their journals as if it were fact. Ever since the ...

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An excerpt from Malpractice: A Neurosurgeon Reveals How Our Health-Care System Puts Patients at Risk. It is not possible to live life in a way that every choice and decision awaits a definitive, double–blind study with a statistically significant ...

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A South Carolina jury awarded a woman $4,618,500 for a needlestick injury she sustained in the parking lot of a Target store. She had parked her car, and while walking to the store, her daughter picked up a hypodermic needle. As she swatted the needle out of the child’s hand, it punctured the woman’s palm. She went into the store and notified an employee. HIV post-exposure prophylaxis medications were prescribed which she ...

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As a physician, I knew exactly what was happening when I walked into the emergency room. My eyes were nearly swollen shut. My throat was closing. I was in the midst of a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. I urgently needed epinephrine, a potent medicine that could halt my life-threatening symptoms. When I told the nurse what was happening, she rushed me to the trauma room where doctors and nurses encircled ...

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