Michael J. Sacopulos, Esq. General Counsel, Medical Justice

A Connecticut case filed October 4, 2010, highlights the importance of not discussing a case in litigation with your colleagues. In June 2004, Pediatrician A performed a circumcision. Allegedly the circumcision was botched and took the form of a partial amputation. The child was transferred from Pediatrician A’s care to Yale-New Haven hospital for surgical repair of his penis. The malpractice claim against Pediatrician A was filed by the family in February 2005.

As time passes, the family has the child seen by a new Pediatrician . For purposes here, I will refer to the second Pediatrician as Pediatrician B. The lawsuit filed in October 2010, alleges that the day before Pediatrician A was to be deposed in his medical malpractice suit, he telephoned Pediatrician B. The alleged telephone conversation between Pediatrician A and B related to the present medical condition of the child. The most recent legal action claims that the family had not given Pediatrician B permission to release any of their son’s medical information to Pediatrician A. Pediatrician B was previously aware of the malpractice suit and in fact was scheduled to be deposed as a witness in that case only days after Pediatrician A’s deposition.

Based on these allegations the family filed an action against Pediatrician A and his practice for breach of fiduciary duty and tortuous interference with the physician patient relationship between the family and Pediatrician B. Pediatrician B was also named as a defendant in the action for allegedly breaching the physician patient relationship and confidentiality.

As this most recent action was filed only several weeks ago, we do not know what the ultimate result of this action will be. I also have no indication whether or not Pediatrician A’s professional liability carrier, if any, will view the claim for tortuous interference with the contractual relationship as being covered under the professional liability policy. I would also be concerned if I represented Pediatrician A in the underlying malpractice suit that the family would argue that Pediatrician A waived his attorney client privilege by discussing the case with Pediatrician B. This is a long way of saying that there are many complicated legal ramifications from a simple (and most likely benign) conversation between the two (2) Pediatrician s. Let this case serve as a warning. Do not speak with colleagues regarding people and facts of cases involved in litigation.