We heard of a doctor who performed a routine injection on his patient. No written consent. Should have been plain-vanilla and without consequence. Until he dropped her lung.
The patient was sent to the ER, had a chest tube placed, and was out of the hospital in a couple of days.
The doctor never visited the patient. When the patient called to speak, he did not return her calls.
She wrote the doctor a letter. All she wanted was an explanation. Perhaps the words “I’m sorry you spent a couple days in the hospital.” And with a little luck, some help with her deductible. No response.
The communication vacuum was soon filled. She filed a pro se lawsuit. No lawyer. Just the patient versus the doctor.
The doctor’s med mal carrier hired an aggressive defender. It was a cage match to the death. Remember, at first, the patient was just looking for an explanation; perhaps a little empathy.
The defense attorney deposed the patient for hours. The doctor sat at the table – listening. Out of the office. Generating zero revenue.
The defense attorney was able to get the case dismissed, for now, on a procedural technicality. As the statute of limitations has not run, chances are high the patient will re-file her claim.
If you ask the defense attorney, he’d likely pat himself on the back stating he secured a kick-ass victory for his doctor client.
Not so fast: On a parallel front, the patient diffused comments on the Internet about her dropped lung, no visit, no response…You get the picture. Plus, she filed a complaint with the Medical Board. The Board was not as forgiving about the “minimalist” informed consent process.
Our point is that medico-legal threats must be addressed holistically. It not just a win in court. For those who have actually been sued and won, you never feel as if you won. You just feel as if you lost less.
Medical Justice gets this and addresses the entire ecosystem of threats. The DISAPPEAR Program would have addressed initial challenge of the patient sending a letter. Next, the Internet rants. That’s addressed by our Web Anti-Defamation Program.
While we don’t pretend to have all the answers, we know only too well that in 2010, you need a big tool kit. That’s what we bring to the table.