If you are a doctor (or med student/health professional) and are human, you've probably made a medical mistake. You've probably not received emotional support for the mistake. Maybe you've never told anyone about a mistake that still haunts you today. The truth is that almost all physicians have admitted to medical mistakes sometime in their careers. Depending on the patient outcome, many doctors carry the distress of medical errors for months, ...

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"Telehealth has come into focus during the COVID-19 pandemic as physicians face an immediate need to reduce exposure by providing care—or at least triage—remotely when appropriate. Under usual circumstances, telemedicine is comparatively low risk. That said, telemedicine does bring specific risks to patient safety and physician/practice liability. Minimizing those risks calls for adapting daily practice routines around informed consent, documentation, and other ...

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Every doctor is an advocate, and every health care provider advocates. An advocate is someone who publicly supports something. Doctors advocate for avoiding smoking, losing weight, and taking medications. In those instances, doctors are advocating for better health. And that’s good. Do you know what’s better? Doctors advocating for themselves, for each other, and for their patients. And advocating is a skill that can be taught. I’ve taught it. For over ...

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Before COVID-19, the health care system was plagued by another epidemic: malpractice lawsuits.  Much is expected of doctors, and disappointments have consequences. Lawsuits are too often a consequence. Under normal conditions, there are 46,000 malpractice claims per year.  One-hundred percent begin with the allegation of medical negligence.  Seventy-three percent end deciding there is none. In these 33,800 cases are no indemnity payments, but there are $767 million in defense costs. Now ...

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In New York City, each evening at 7 p.m., the sound of people banging on pots and pans can be heard from apartment buildings within an earshot of hospitals all over the city. The cacophonous clanging is a salute to the beleaguered health care workers who are changing shifts on the asphalt down below. The ritual is meant to convey appreciation and thousands of idiosyncratic messages of hope. And that’s great. ...

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A radical change is emerging from within our health care system: Rather than deny or defend medical errors, some hospitals are acknowledging them upfront. This enlightened response has been gaining ground since 2001 when the University of Michigan Hospital introduced one of the first medical error disclosure programs: the Michigan Model. Hospitals that adopt the model also promise to explain why the error occurred, apologize, offer fair compensation, and learn from ...

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I recently started watching the HBO series Chernobyl, chronicling the events surrounding the 1986 disaster. For anyone who hasn’t seen it yet—I’d highly recommend this excellent production (It’s already deservedly won multiple awards). The great thing about TV like this, which documents real-life events (and I’d put another HBO series John Adams in the same category), is that they can really bring complex consequential events to the mass audience, in ...

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Ever since the publication of the infamous 2016 BMJ opinion piece claiming medical error should be considered the third leading cause of death in the U.S., the debate on the true incidence of deaths caused by medical error has been raging. Many, including me, felt the estimate of 251,000 deaths per year from medical error was grossly inflated. For example, the paper extrapolated the number of deaths from ...

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I am a middle-aged, full-time emergency physician, and part-time law student. Usually, I practice medicine during the day and attend law classes in the evening. Sometimes I have law classes in the afternoon or early evening then work in the emergency department all night. So, what’s harder: medical school or law school? Absolutely the most common question I am asked by physicians, attorneys, and students at all levels of training. The other most ...

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An excerpt from Technology and the Doctor-Patient Relationship. As disturbing as the structure of malpractice insurance is in America, a more significant problem is the defensive style of medical practice it induces. In a large-scale survey done by Jackson Healthcare in 2010, between 73-92% of physicians self-reported ordering unnecessary ...

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It’s hard to describe the feelings I had when I received my first letter of intent to sue. I think I went through the Kubler-Ross stages of grief — denial at first, of course. This denial didn’t last long since the letter was clearly addressed to me — first, middle, and last name. Anger was almost immediate … I was immediately upset at the deceased patient’s family who were bringing the ...

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I was struck by a post by Dr. Saurabh Jha about his views of the jury system — as some of his comments mirrored things I’ve said to juries in the past. Some things he got right, which go to the core our civil justice system. Some things, however, not so much. His perspective comes from growing up in India, which doesn’t exactly have the most efficient of justice systems. And ...

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The one thing doctors want to avoid like the plague is a lawsuit — a medical malpractice lawsuit. To be sued means the doctor loses precious time from work, endures emotional personal and family distress and is unable to fully invest oneself in providing the very best medical care possible. It is a dark cloud that hovers over the majority of physicians at least once in their lives. Some medical specialties, ...

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An excerpt from Med Mal. The attorney for the plaintiff leaned forward, rocking precariously at the edge of his chair while I studied him. Comfortable in my leather armchair on the other side of the table I kept up my observation, somewhat amused although mostly unimpressed, as he betrayed his anxiety over and over again ...

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I’m sitting on a cross-country flight to California with utmost respect for the professionalism of the crew, especially considering my life will be in their hands for the next 6 hours. Despite understanding the physics, I am still amazed by flight, and even more so by the coordination required to manage the logistics of shuttling so many people and their luggage around the world. As health care leaders apply a business ...

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"In a case that could have wide-reaching implications for medical practice in Minnesota, the Minnesota Supreme Court issued a ruling on April 17 in the case of Warren v. Dinter holding that the existence of a physician-patient relationship is not a prerequisite for a medical malpractice action. Rather, a person may sue a physician for malpractice – even if that person was not a patient of the physician – if the harm ...

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Twenty years of defending doctors and hospitals in medical malpractice cases has made me into a nervous patient. When you see the worst, you look for it. At least I do. That’s why when I was scheduled for a minor elective procedure, I was nervous. I set aside the day, canceling all of my depositions and planning to spend the day on emails and phone calls. My specialist’s office texted ...

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On January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger disintegrated shortly after liftoff, resulting in the death of the entire seven-person crew. The subsequent investigation revealed that a joint in the right solid rocket booster failed during liftoff, which occurred due to the inadequacy of the O-ring seals. It was about 28-degrees on the morning of the space shuttle launch, and the O-ring seals were not designed to perform at such ...

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A New Mexico woman, suffering from Dercum’s disease (adiposis dolorosa) which causes painful fatty tumors, is suing a Santa Fe hospital and an emergency physician claiming she was the victim of two negligent acts in 2016. One, according to the Albuquerque Journal, she told hospital personnel she was allergic to Dilaudid but went into cardiac arrest after receiving an injection of the drug. Two, despite the presence of a lawfully ...

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An excerpt from Wrongful Deaths. “We will name Memorial Hospital, Dr. Julie Stone, Dr. Vijay Gupta, and ICU nurse Tracy Miller in a malpractice suit involving the wrongful death of Ivy Jackson.” Venjer appeared apologetic. “But Dr. Torrins is correct. It ...

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