I don’t often say this, but Oxygen, a novel by Carol Cassella, is a must-read.
My sister-in-law let me borrow her copy a few months ago when I was hunting for a good summer book. A first glance the topic — an anesthesiologist’s struggle to cope with her emotional and legal struggles after a mistake she made during surgery caused a young girl to die on the table — did not seem to fit my description of a vacation read (a.k.a. a slightly trashy, romantic drama that requires very little mental output). However, I gave Oxygen a try, and I am so, so glad I did.
As a plaintiff’s malpractice attorney, I tend to view malpractice cases primarily from one perspective — the victim’s. Seeing people in my office day in and day out who have been permanently injured or who have lost a family member due to negligence is a moving experience. As the attorney hired to represent the these victims’ interests, I am compelled to do everything I can to see that justice is served for them.
However, reading Oxygen reminded me of the struggles doctors and nurses endure after committing malpractice. Knowing you hurt or killed someone is a terrible cross to bear, yet our draconian medical insurance defense culture — featured prominently in the book — prevents doctors and nurses from acknowledging their mistakes and apologizing to the people affected by their negligence. Worse, the insurance system is set up to drag everyone — the victims and the doctors and nurses — through years and years of needless litigation all in the hopes of saving a few bucks.
As a society, we should be outraged. Many of us who have dealt firsthand with these issues are, but the ever-powerful insurance lobby does everything it can to keep most people from realizing the true extent of what is going on.
If you get a chance, I truly urge you to give Oxygen a read. If you do, please leave a comment for me. I would love to know what you think.
Thanks for reading,
Christina Bruner Sonsire, Esq.
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William Street
Elmira, New York 14902-1338
Toll-Free: 800.ZIFFLAW (943.3529)