Philadelphia Reflections

The musings of a physician who has served the community for over six decades

Related Topics

Medical Malpractice
The medical system is on the point of abandoning the city to escape abusive lawsuits. A series of observations about shared blame, ultimately assigns responsibility to the mistake of allowing this matter to be covered by insurance, thus creating a financial target.

Philadelphia Legal Scene
The American legal profession grew up in this town, creating institutions and traditions that set the style for everyone else. Boston, New York and Washington have lots of influential lawyers, but Philadelphia shapes the legal profession.

Trial Bar Cavalry Charge

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General George Patton

One of the maxims lawyers tell each other is, "Never ask a witness a question unless you already know what the answer will be." The concept might well be extended to program chairmen when they invite speakers, as the following story will illustrate.

The Right Angle Club recently heard from a lawyer who had formerly been a cavalry commander, and who slid into the General George Patton manner while addressing an audience about the malpractice crisis. Or, as he described it, the so-called crisis. I make my living by suing people, he started, so I got out pen and pencil to take it down. My careful notes indicate he started by saying the medical malpractice crisis does not and never did exist. Every verdict you ever heard of was won by the defendant, because the public relations battle has been won by the insurance companies. There was more in like vein, but this is sufficient.

It was of course not the first time I have talked with a malpractice trial lawyer, and many of them are quite reasonable people who feel they are performing a needed service in an honorable way. In the past, however, both doctors and lawyers have maintained icy civility and careful adjectives in these conversations, doing their best to behave like diplomats representing warring parties

 

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