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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“The unintended consequences of these seemingly well-intentioned laws are doctors who can’t apologize for harming their patients even if they want to …” A recent JAMA article about disclosing medical error described a hypothetical situation involving a dermatologist who, after completing skin biopsies on two patients, discovered that the instruments had not been sterilized. He wondered if he should tell the patients and what he should say. The authors of ...

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I have been a rehabilitation specialist and case manager working with patients who have neurological and neuropsychiatric impairments for thirty years. About three years ago, my life took an unanticipated detour when I was perforated during a baseline colonoscopy. All of my experience as a case manger and patient advocate could not prevent this error or the others that followed. Although my health, body, and life were forever altered by the ...

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A few years ago, I missed a diagnosis.  I know that’s not earth-shattering, but the stakes are high for a cardiologist.  Ms. A was an 82-year-old woman with chest pain. She underwent a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) for severe aortic stenosis.  The pre-procedure coronary angiogram showed no coronary artery disease and the echocardiogram post TAVR was perfect. However, a few months after the procedure, she reported arm pain.  It was ...

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It was recently reported that medical errors are the third-eading cause of death in the United States after heart disease and cancer. The estimated number per year is over 400,000. This is not new information, and unfortunately, this will not be a simple problem to fix. A portion of these deaths result from health care providers lacking resources and being overextended, both contributing to making errors. Some will also result from ...

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