Doctors and Lawyers and Medical Malpractice

Overlawyered links to a post called Munchausens by Attorney. The blog, Throckmorton, is written by a doctor who says he is a “mere foot soldier stuck in the medical-legal battlefield.” I don’t know what this means, either. But it is a pretty decent blog.

The post deserves a link because the title is so funny. (Warning: do not read the comments to the post unless you are looking to lose a few IQ points.)

But this post is about MY reaction to the blog. When I hear about a lawyer doing something awful, I think to myself, “Oh my, I hope someone catches and stops the person who does it.” I think that is the response most lawyers have. But when doctors hear about a doctor habitually committing medical malpractice, their instinct is to defend the doctor and attack the accusers (not the victims, but their medical malpractice lawyers).

Maybe being a doctor is more of an intrinsically self-identifying profession because at the core, doctors help others in a more direct way than almost any profession, and this makes them more loyal to fellow doctors. In contrast, a lawyer just moved into my neighborhood. He has three kids. I identify with him more because he has three kids (like me) than I do because he is a lawyer. If you see a tombstone that mentions the person was a doctor, I don’t think you would be surprised. But you would find the mention of someone being a lawyer a little odd, right?

So that all makes sense. But here’s the thing: according to the federal government, medical malpractice is killing like 100,000 people a year and causing serious injury to countless more. So at some point, regardless of where you are on medical malpractice lawsuit reform, doctors need to spend less of their energy firing out at medical malpractice lawyers and insurance companies and focus more of their energy and attention on patient safety initiatives.

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