MALPRACTICE: Auto-biography of a Victim by Dean Lipton

MALPRACTICE: Auto-biography of a Victim

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Malpractice victim Dean Lipton had a rough time--but what do you say after I'm sorry? During a ""minor"" ear operation in 1968, one of his facial nerves was severed by a seemingly lackadaisical surgeon, who subsequently assured him that the nerve would regenerate spontaneously (it didn't), and if not he could always have a nerve graft (which should have been performed immediately, but wasn't). The result: half his face paralyzed, an eye that wouldn't close, severely impaired speech, drooling, nine plastic surgeries, more ear problems, a drastically curtailed social life, half-hearted suicide attempts, and (most significantly, he feels) loss of his creative energies as a writer (among other things, he beads the San Francisco Writers' Workshop). After the ""bad"" doctors rake him over the coals, he finds some ""good"" doctors who do what they can, but well--there's only so much. He is victimized by ""bad"" lawyers who simply don't care, and then finds ""good"" lawyers; the courts also take their toil in the form of three self-interested judges. Finally, after five-and-a-half years, Lipton has his ""day in court""--the final settlement comes to $400,000 (they had asked for a cool million), of which Lipton gets less than half. Unfortunately, Lipton is so obsessed by personal wrongs--the difficulty of finding doctors to testify in his behalf, the inability to prove substantial loss of a steady income--that one involuntarily withdraws from his bitterness, and from the one-sidedness of an account that never quite hits the heights of drama, and one longs for the wit, the literate interplay between distancing and passionate involvement that characterized Jean Pond's account of her maltreatment in Surviving (p. 227).

Pub Date: Nov. 30th, 1978
Publisher: Barnes