MALPRACTICE: A Guide to the Legal Rights of Doctors and Patients by

MALPRACTICE: A Guide to the Legal Rights of Doctors and Patients

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A Brooklyn man is awarded $1 million for a bungled lung operation that made him short of breath and ruined his sex life. A young Colorado man sues his mother for ""parental malpractice""; she, in turn, sues the son's psychiatrist for supporting the original suit. Physician/lawyer Fluster is taken aback at the proliferation of such suits, as readers will well understand; and his explanations of both sides' points of view are a boost for a sane, human approach to the whole malpractice question. The term refers to any wrongful act (either misconduct or improper performance) that makes a physician, or other professional, legally liable to compensate a patient who was its victim. The difficulty is in establishing what constitutes a wrongful act--the circumstances are all-important. ""In the courtroom everything is either black or white. . . innocent or guilty, liable or not liable. But in the world of medicine, many shades of gray are evident, and uncertainty is more common than absolute fact or resolution."" Flaster looks at distinctions between malpractice and treatment failure, abandonment, human error, misinformation, or unrealistic expectations. He then describes who sues and why (patients may try to off-load their responsibility for their own care onto their physicians); who gets sued (doctors who won't listen, or who are ""drowning in a Deity Complex""); the importance of pre-treatment consent; how to avoid lawsuits (for both physician and patient); and, yes, how to prepare a lawsuit. Flaster also covers some peripheral issues--how physicians are regulated, the rights of teenagers--and makes a special plea for readers to understand the physicians' point of view (the intolerable pressures; the difficulty of responding evenly to patients' sometimes unrealistic demands). A simple, balanced overview of malpractice issues--also reflecting shifts in perception since the top publications of the malpractice-crisis years, Law and Pollen's Pain and Profit and John Guinther's The Malpractitioners (both 1978).

Pub Date: July 1st, 1983
Publisher: Scribners