Was I Too Harsh?

I got this comment from Steven concerning my post about the settlement of the medical malpractice lawsuit concerning John Ritter’s death:

“{T]his illustrates the insanity of the system. If a patient arrives in the ER with a ruptured AAA (abdominal aortic aneurysm), his chance of survival is ~50%. 25% die on the table. It is a very big surgery, and most die before making it to the hospital, making the actual mortality higher. An aortic dissection, can be a difficult diagnosis to make, and the surgery while not as challenging is still very difficult with a significant morbidity and mortality. Anyone who has ever had to work up chest pain knows this is part of the differential, but the odds are very small that this is the dx. Also, patients don’t show up and say I have “aortic dissection.” Doctors have to piece together many factors.
While his death is tragic, there is no guarantee that even if the doctor was superman (or superwoman) with Xray vision able to make a diagnosis instantaneously, John Ritter would have survived.
However, it is a sad story, so I guess if I was on the jury, I would listen to the sleazy trial attorney and decide to “award” the attorney some money for all his suffering. Who knows maybe the family will receive some of it.”

My response:

“Steven, what makes you think that the attorney was “sleazy?” Would it be appropriate for me to conclude that the doctor missed the diagnosis because he was a drug addict? Five to seven percent of doctors abuse narcotics or alcohol – so would it be fair of me to make that conclusion?

No, it would not. Why? Because I have no factual basis to make that kind of statement against any of the health care providers in the case.

Why would you accuse the attorney of being sleazy without knowing anything about him? What is your factual basis for making such a statement? Do you even know the attorney’s name?

Your comment reflects a very shallow thought process. I post your comment only because it demonstrates that fact.”

So, what do you think? Was my reaction too strong? I get very frustrated at the careless accusations made by people like Steven who assume that people who do what I do are “sleazy.” I’m not sleazy. Almost all of the lawyers I know who do what I do are not sleazy. Some are, to be sure. Name a profession or trade without a few sleazeballs.

John Ritter’s case may or may not have had merit. I have absolutely no idea – I have not reviewed the medical records and I have not had them reviewed by a competent expert or experts. But my guess is that Steven has never reviewed the records either. However, that did not stop him from suggesting that the case had no merit.

Perhaps Steven has a Senator Bill Frist-like ability to diagnose someone via video or, in this case, via newspaper articles. If so, I hope he puts his gift to use taking care of patients. (This comment assumes he is a health care provider of some type, a reasonable assumption given the words used and the medical issues raised in his comment.)

On the other hand, if he has some facts about the case, I hope he comes back to this site and posts them. I am eager to learn what actually happened.

But to accuse the lawyer of being “sleazy” is a cheap shot that I will not let go unanswered. As I said above, not all trial lawyers are sleazy. The mere fact that a lawyer files a medical malpractice case does not mean the lawyer is sleazy. The mere fact that a medical malpractice case arises out of the treatment (or non-treatment) of a condition that is difficult to diagnose does not meant that the lawyer who filed the case is sleazy.

Anyone and everyone is welcome to make comments on this blog. Indeed, comments are accepted regardless of whether they have a basis in fact. But, if you make a comment, be prepared to defend it.

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