DEFENDANT by Rich Cowin


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This sincere attempt to criticize the United States tort system with regard to medical malpractice is at heart a self-pitying autobiography of a talented and well-meaning podiatrist who was sued for malpractice throughout his medical career in the 1980s and ’90s.

Cowin unnecessarily devotes the first quarter of his book to his upbringing in the Chicago area in the 1950s and ’60s, and his development from a medical student to a pioneer and highly respected podiatrist specializing in minimally invasive surgery. While this technique is proven to be more effective and less painful than traditional foot surgery, the medical establishment and several patients in Kenosha, Wis. (where he practiced in the ’x80s), seem plotted against him. This is where the book evolves from an autobiography to the languishing memoirs of a doctor whose peers attempted to discredit him and patients unfairly sued him. Cowin then describes his descent into severe, disabling depression under the stress and pressure of these misfortunes, while providing a sharp and informative criticism of the process surrounding malpractice lawsuits, and the tort system as a whole. Cowin, while clearly has the best of intentions in sharing his unfortunate experiences with medical malpractice, would have been more successful–and effective–in inciting changes to the tort system by eliminating these autobiographical aspects and focusing on an in-depth analysis and criticism of the system. Further, the author might have limited his story to personal experiences with malpractice to support his views about the weaknesses of the tort system and suggest ideas for legislative changes, rather than bogging the reader down with pages upon pages of descriptions of his professional woes spanning three decades.

An amateurish autobiography of a podiatrist who was damaged–but ultimately not broken–by a series of medical malpractice lawsuits that revealed to him the myriad flaws in the tort system.

Pub Date: Nov. 30th, 2007
ISBN: 978-1-4257-9129-2
Page count: 196pp
Program: Kirkus Indie
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