Most physicians will be sued for malpractice during their career. A group at Harvard has estimated that by age 65, more than 75% of physicians in low-risk specialties such as family medicine and 99% of physicians in high-risk specialties such as surgery will have been sued. Over 95% of physicians do experience emotional distress during some or all of the process of litigation. Malpractice suits can take between ...

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We hold these truths to be self-evident:

A hospital administrator with a clipboard is in search of a physician who isn’t following “evidence-based guidelines.” There are fads in medicine just as there are in fashion -- today’s ”evidence-based guidelines” may be tomorrow’s malpractice.
Did your hospital, like so many, abruptly switch from povidone-iodine antiseptic solution to ChloraPrep® for cleaning a patient’s skin before surgery?  If so, I’m sure the staff was told that ChloraPrep would ...

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I have never been involved in a medical malpractice case, but I have recently been the victim of a sociopathic legal abuse situation entirely not related to medicine. It involves a no-good attorney with the ethics of a camel, a multiply convicted felonious sociopath, and his long series of victims including his own prison guards who he is suing because his feelings were hurt. As my small part of it, I ...

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Elton John had it right: “It’s sad, so sad.  Why can’t we talk it over. Oh, it seems to me that sorry seems to be the hardest word.”  Mistakes are all to common in medicine, but can we say the “hardest word” when we’re involved? Example 1: There’s a diagnosis of recurrent lymphoma in the ICU. The oncologist gives a phone order for cytoxan, prednisone, and vincristine. The recorder, working a double ...

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Not long ago a woman in my community, who was a patient of an esteemed local oncologist, died.  Let us call her “Beverly” and let us say she died of “breast cancer.”  I am familiar with the details of the case because one of my partners saw her in consult, but HIPAA and common courtesy forbid me to be any more transparent.  Beverly was very popular in our town and ...

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An anesthetized patient fell to the floor headfirst from an operating room table during a laparoscopic appendectomy in Scotland. The table had been tilted into an extreme head down position to facilitate the operation. Fortunately, no injury occurred. The Edinburgh Evening News account says that there were 10 staff members in the room at the time the case started, but no one had placed a safety restraint on the patient. A follow ...

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10:11am Tuesday, June 5, 2006:  This was the moment Marge was told the mammogram showed a mass, which was probably breast cancer.  “But, don’t worry, the tumor is very small and with surgery and radiation, you will be fine.” 1:55pm Wednesday, March 25, 2009: This was the moment Marge was told that the breast cancer had spread to her ribs. “But, don’t worry, the tumors are small, and with hormones, you ...

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You may have missed this when it first appeared. Experts from Harvard and the University of Southern California say assumptions made by some analysts that defensive medicine is not an important facet of the high cost of health care may be wrong. Those assumptions were based on data showing that malpractice reforms instituted in some states did little to reduce health care spending. According to the report from the National Center ...

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I had thought that apologizing was a straightforward act, but I now realize that it is a nuanced art form. We’ve all heard the "mistakes were made" version, usually issued by politicians who attempt to insert a layer of passive voice insulation between themselves and their screw-ups. There is also the ever present conditional apology which by definition falls short of complete responsibility acceptance. The template here is: “I’m sorry for ...

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Do you have a medical, pharmacy or nursing license in several different states?  Do you have a license in more than one health profession?  Have you been notified that an investigation has been opened against you?  Are you thinking about resigning your professional license or voluntarily relinquishing such a license?  Then you must be aware of the following. First, you should never voluntarily relinquish or resign your license after you know ...

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