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The New York Minute

It's Friday.  Welcome week's edition of the Sui Generis New York Minute.

In today's video I discuss the State's Memorandum of Law submitted in opposition to the lawsuit challenging the lawyer advertising rules.

I also discuss this post from Flea, a physician's blog, which is in response to this post from Eric Turkewitz's New York Personal Injury Law Blog.  In Eric's post, he rationally discusses effective cross-examination techniques for attractive physician defendants in medical malpractice cases.  In Dr. Flea's post, he personally attacks Eric and suggests that physicians should refuse to treat plaintiff's medical malpractice attorneys and their families:

How does Eric Turkewitz look at himself in the mirror in the morning?

His wife and kids look like decent enough people (scroll down on link for picture). Where does Turkewitz find doctors in New York City willing to care for them?

Scott Greenfield responded to Dr. Flea's highly personal attack in this post at the Simple Justice blog.


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Just because you're a doc doesn't mean you've got class! What do you thinks accounts for this excess of sensitivity?

Is their any other profession (lawyers included) where so many think the customers, not the culpable professionals, should shoulder the burden of their negligence? I don't think so.

Scott Greenfield

The shocking part of that whole escapade is how poorly the self-righteous doctors came off. And yet, they have absolutely no clue how unpersuasive their denials sound.

While lawyers tend to be the only professionals who eat their own, the refusal of docs to even acknowledge that some in their profession have a problem is quite disappointing. Most of us really do want to have faith in phyisicians, but faith requires a minimum level of understanding that they are human, have flaws and occasionally make mistakes. It's a shame they lack the ability to recognize these basic truths. And a shame they continue to attack lawyers instead.


I think Scott misses the point. I don't deny that doctors make mistakes (myself included). We make mistakes in the course of honest good-faith efforts to take care of patients to the best of our ability.

The fundamental question about which we disagree comes down to the difference between "should" and "could". I, and many of my colleagues, believe that in the course of our best efforts to care for patients, we often make mistakes and bad outcomes happen. We are not perfect. Does that mean we SHOULD be sued? I think not. You think so.

The defensiveness comes from our perception, at least partially grounded in reality, that any mistake we make will result in our being dragged into lengthy, costly, extremely stressful litigation.

As for eating ones own, surely you know that doctors serve as expert witnesses for plaintiff's and seem to suffer no pangs of conscience for doing so.

One more point (I promise). Even the best doctors make mistakes. They are bound to happen. We can never be perfect 100% of the time. Unless you do what we do for a living perhaps you can't understand what I mean.

This is not self-righteousness or arrogance. It's fear.




Yes, but Flea, what of the doctors that are practicing that shouldn't be? You know as well as I that there are doctors in every community that every other Dr. knows shouldn't be practicing either due to senility, substance abuse or simply incompetence.

There are lawyers who fall under those same categories and everyone knows at least one lawyer who simply shouldn't be practicing and who commits malpractice on a daily basis.

Much like the legal profession, the medical profession is mostly a self-policing profession--and it does no better a job at it than the legal profession.

So, that leaves lawyers to police both professions. It's not the best system and many a doctor or lawyer who is more than competent has been sued, but it's better than letting those who are incompetent continue to practice their profession in a way that drastically and negatively alters the lives of those whom they are supposed to be helping.

Scott Greenfield

Do I miss the point flea?

in the course of our best efforts to care for patients, we often make mistakes and bad outcomes happen. We are not perfect. Does that mean we SHOULD be sued?

That's exactly the distinction. The doctor has made MISTAKE. The patient, now known as the victim, has suffered, and your concern is for the poor doctor, the mistake maker, rather than the patient, poor victim who has done nothing wrong.

When someone makes a mistake, and someone else suffers for the mistake, who should bear the consequences? This is precisely where our views differ.

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