Ten years ago, we ran a contest, encouraging doctors to reveal if they had been involved in a frivolous lawsuit. We awarded a prize to the doctor who submitted the Most Frivolous Lawsuit. Cold comfort. Still, the winner did receive a free membership for one year with Medical Justice. We are running that same contest again. More on that in a moment.
Here were some of the submissions we received.
Failure to Diagnose Death:
A young woman was found at home on the ground by her family. CPR was initiated by family members. She had been “down” for an estimated thirty minutes before CPR was started. Paramedics arrived ten minutes later. EKG showed asystole. The paramedics were unable to intubate her or establish IV access. Transport time was yet another ten minutes. So documented time of asystole on EKG was 35 minutes before hitting the ER door. She was then intubated, a central line was inserted, and ACLS protocol was followed. She remained in asystole and was pronounced dead after fifteen minutes. Physician was named in the lawsuit because one of the blood tests noted a potassium just under 13. The allegation: failure to diagnose hyperkalemia. The actual cause of the hyperkalemia was “death and decomposition.”
Syllogism-You Practice in My Town. I Live in My Town. Ergo You Are My Doctor:
Neurosurgeon received a letter of intent to sue from a patient whose name he did not recognize. There was no medical record or billing statement to support that this mystery person had ever been a patient. Suit was filed and an attorney had to be hired to answer the allegation that the patient developed paraplegia from a spinal mass. The neurosurgeon was named because “he was the only neurosurgeon in the community.” The case was not dropped until the plaintiff was deposed and stated under oath he had never heard of this doctor and had no complaints with him.
Absence of Evidence Is Not Evidence of Absence:
A thirty-year old woman delivered a baby under regional anesthesia. The following day, she had a tubal ligation under general anesthesia. She complained to the staff that she could not find her dentures and the nurses look long and hard, to no avail. Chest and abdomen X-rays were performed, all negative, for a foreign body “from mouth to anus.” The patient was discharged. She developed throat pain and several days later was seen in an ER. An ENT physician ordered a CT and diagnosed peri-tonsillar abscess. The abscess was drained in the OR under general anesthesia. There was no mention of a foreign body in the CT scan report or the op-report. She was discharged the next day. Several months later she was evaluated by a gastroenterologist who found and removed a polyp from her esophagus. Still, there was no mention of a foreign body. Six years later the woman died. The original anesthesiologist was sued for “complications related to a broken denture” that presumably stuck in the patient’s throat for six years, even though a multitude of imaging studies and direct observations by other physicians failed to find the culprit.
These were but a sampling of the scores of submissions by physicians.
All right, let’s do it again.
Send us a brief description of what you believe qualifies for the most frivolous lawsuit. Email us at email@example.com. You have to have personal knowledge of the case. Either you were a named defendant. Or you knew the named defendant.
The winner will receive a free year’s membership to Medical Justice. Determination will be made by XXX-YYY and announced soon after via our weekly e-blast and blog. (The usual caveat, void where prohibited by law).
May the best defendant win.