Nobody likes waking up in the middle of the night gasping for air. When you make a mistake in the emergency department, that’s exactly what happens. They come in all sorts of shapes and colors:

  • The sixty-year-old man diagnosed with a strained lower back muscle who comes back with a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm.
  • The fifty-four-year-old Hispanic female with generalized malaise who goes into cardiac arrest from a missed myocardial infarction.
  • The two-year-old with ...

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The California ballot initiative: Protecting patients or letting in a Trojan horse?A guest column by the American College of Physicians, exclusive to KevinMD.com. Physicians in California are mobilizing to oppose an initiative on the November ballot that will raise the cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. The current cap of $250,000 is part of California’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act, or MICRA. Adopted in ...

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I saw the caller-ID and immediately picked up the phone; it was an old friend from college. “I want to sue a doctor and I want to sue the hospital,” said Karen. Sadly, I hear those words all too often.  I’m a newly-minted lawyer -- after a 35-year career as a publisher -- working at one of New York’s top medical malpractice plaintiff’s firms.  What made this particular call so unusual, was ...

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Emergency physician Brian Goldman, host of CBC's White Coat, Black Art, wants to lift the cloud of shame when medical mistakes are made, so they can be openly discussed and not be repeated by other physicians.  In this masterful TEDx Toronto talk, Dr. Goldman shares compelling stories of his own errors and reveals the 3 words that every emergency physician fears. When it comes to mistakes in medicine, the ...

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The U.S. medical malpractice system is broken. It frequently does not punish doctors who need punishing, while levying fines against doctors who did nothing wrong. And this dreadfully inaccurate system still manages to take almost five years, on average, to settle claims. Experts have been promoting a type of reform known as safe harbor rules, which would shield physicians from lawsuits in cases where they were known to be following accepted ...

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Earlier, I wrote about the tragic case of a young girl in California who was declared brain dead after what most media sources called a tonsillectomy. In fact, the patient had a much more extensive procedure for treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. In addition to having her tonsils removed, she underwent an uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) and resection (removal) of her inferior nasal turbinate bones. As I stated before, I will not ...

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Every time you turn around, it seems there’s another CEO apologizing. But, when do apologies work? When does an apology help everyone learn, improve, and move on? What distinguished sincere apologies from the rest? I think it takes three ingredients:

  • Compassion: The words and the tone convey sincere empathy.
  • Coherence: The parts of the apology add up to a meaningful, informative statement and are not internally contradictory or self-cancelling.
  • Credibility: The apology is ...

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Pay me like a French doctor.  You know you want to. Whenever new physician salary data is released, reporters and policy experts often compare doctor salaries in the United States to those of other countries: most notably, France. And on cue, Vox's Sarah Kliff -- normally an excellent health care writer, by the way -- is uncharacteristically lazy in framing physician salaries through a biased lens. After presenting the data, ...

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Remember personal responsibility? There actually was an era of responsibility when folks admitted when they screwed up and didn’t blame others for their own mistakes. I know this may seem incredible to the younger generation who simply assume that when something goes wrong today, it must be someone else’s fault. In today’s culture, this is not scapegoating, but the pursuit of justice. Welcome to the era of big victim. In the ...

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I've been in the medical malpractice arena many times, and always walked away unharmed. If this system were presented in front of a fair minded and impartial jury, it would be dismantled. Sure, there are positive elements present, but they are dwarfed and suffocated by the drawbacks. The self-serving arguments supporting the current system are far outweighed by the financial and emotional costs that innocent physicians unfairly bear. Tort reform ...

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