Thursday, April 14, 2005


Today we heard about a case where something had been done that had litigation potential.

There are several things that would have to occur to make this a successful suit.
First of all, it requires a bad relationship with the patient. In this case, it was fully explained to the patient, and the procedure to correct the problem was immediately arranged. The patient seemed very understanding. For the second reason we need to go to my lawyer buddies.

A tort is a wrongful act other than a breach of contract that injures another and for which the law imposes civil liability. There are four elements of a tort as I understand it

  1. Duty
  2. Breach of Duty
  3. Damages/Harm
  4. Causation

If all four are not present a tort should not be successful. In this case, there was a duty, and that duty was definitely breached. Most of the time, the act in question does not involve arguing breach of duty, it is assumed to have happened. There also needs to be damages or harm associated with the breach of duty, and the damages must be caused by the breach of duty. If there is no damages, there is no tort. If there are damages, but no causation, there is no tort. In this case, there were no damages to the patient other than having to go through the corrective procedure. So there should no sucesful tort possible.

PS. Hmmm...

looking through my visitor statistics, apparently I'm the 27th choice for a google search of the movie SuperSize Me. Interesting.


Dreaming again said...

Did you send your grand rounds submission in to grrlscientist yet?

(just trying to help her out by plugging it where I can (grin) she needs more submissions)

So .. anyone reading this ... send your submissions for grand rounds to
by tomrrow! She needs them! Sooner better than later.

Anonymous said...

What a coincidence. Within a week of actually meeting an anesthetist, I even stumble over one who blogs!

To me it was always a given that I would be unconscious in the unlikely case that I needed surgery at all. Thus, it was not before I was meeting my resident anesthetist last week and got prepped up, that I realised how crucial and man-made the whole process is.

Just as I began to drift off into sleep, I realised I had not yet thanked him and his kind supervisor for watching over me - as they soon would.

I am glad I stayed awake long enough to remedy that. In fact, I blame the profound feeling of gratitude, which I experienced when I went to sleep, for my urge to thank everyone around me as soon as I was drifting back into reality. Either that, or I am pathologically polite.

I think I remember that everyone I thanked (before and shortly after surgery) seemed pleasantly surprised. Since then, this memory made me wonder how often people involved with patients in this time-frame do get to hear thanks. And more generally I am wondering if you think there are recognisable patterns in which patients deal with it all (such as fear? apprehension? complete relaxation?).

Well, that was my limited perspective on anethesiology, for what it's worth.