Lawrence Schlachter was a brain surgeon until a hand injury sent him on a new path: medical malpractice lawyer. His book, “Malpractice”, provides an insider’s account of how the culture of medicine is failing patients by encouraging doctors to circle the wagons and protect each other in the face of medical error. He argues that patients are the ones who end up suffering from this cultural conspiracy, even pointing out in an article in ProPublica that doctors will sometimes lie for each other in the courtroom.
Schlachter also points out, however, as noted in a recent New England Journal of Medicine article, that a small number of doctors are responsible for a large number of medical malpractice cases. The fact that the majority of doctors are not failing their patients in this way may be unfortunately offset by the fact that the negligent ones are apparently staying in circulation where they can do additional harm.
A culture of silence about negligent patient care bolstered by large egos in the medical realm surely doesn’t bode well for patients. When something goes wrong and a patient is harmed in a medical setting, that patient deserves accountability. Schlachter has a unique perspective from having been both a doctor and a lawyer. His experience at the very least shines a light on medical culture that patients rarely see.
Doctors are often afforded automatic deference and respect in our culture. But when they violate medical standards and then protect each other from the very patients that they’ve harmed, they don’t deserve the veneration. If you or a loved one has been harmed in what you believe to be a medical malpractice event, contact a lawyer to do discuss your case and discover your options for moving forward.