Trust. Have you ever thought about how much we rely on trust every day, in the simplest of contexts? You trust that other drivers are going to stop at red lights. You trust that your money will be exchanged for the coffee or newspaper you want to buy.
These trust/transactions are not only backed up by the social contract, but by our laws. They are enforced by penalties.
But what happens when one of our most powerful trust relationships is violated, and then the truth is deliberately hidden in an effort to avoid the consequences?
I recently read a truly shocking post on Dr. Amy Tuteur’s “The Skeptical OB” blog. A gynecologist and obstetrician, Dr. Amy wrote, “They Killed My Patient. Then They Tried to Hide It” about a case from her past (without disclosing specific details).
Women rarely die in childbirth anymore. In modern hospitals, with proper care, young women routinely survive complications which would have been fatal just a few decades ago.
Dr. Amy was tangentially involved in the case. It was her belief that a young woman died during childbirth because of “unfortunate anesthetic complications, compounded by inadequate medical response.” Dr. Amy testified at a deposition – she was angry about the situation and went to far as to say that she felt the “anesthesiologists had killed the patient.”
Several years later…
A medical malpractice claim was filed against the anesthesiologists. A lawyer for the patient’s case contacted Dr. Amy to go over her deposition.
When Dr. Amy retold her memories of the case, the lawyer was shocked. It was not the story he had been given by the hospital. He showed Dr. Amy the copy of her original deposition he had received from the hospital – it was completely different, altered by the hospital administration to protect the hospital’s and the careers of the sued anesthesiologists.
Luckily, Dr. Amy had kept a photocopy of her original, signed deposition. There was no trial. The patient’s family received an 8-figure settlement.
What if the guilty don’t tell the truth?
Doctors take an oath to protect the health of patients. If something goes wrong, if they do not live up to our trust, you turn to the law and trust that the truth with be discovered.
It’s what I’m proud to say I do, as a medical malpractice and personal injury attorney.
If there is a systematic cover up, from the highest levels of hospital administration – as in Dr. Amy’s story – you need someone to fight for patients’ rights.
Stories like Dr. Amy’s are the reason confidence in our doctors has decreased. I work to help people keep the trust that if there is negligence in their medical care, they have recourse in the law.
Thanks for reading,
James B. Reed, Esq.
Personal Injury & Malpractice Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14902
Tel. (607) 733-8866 Fax. (607) 732-6062
Toll Free 1-800-943-3529
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