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Medical Malpractice

While this seems self evident, how many cases does a medical malpractice lawyer review each year arising from mis- communications between doctor and patient? Malone very reasonably suggests that Patients should “make a list, leave a list and take a list” of important information at each doctor’s visit.

Malone also suggests that patients “team up with the

best primary-care doctor you can find.” Tis suggestion also seems self evident, but what Malone is really advocating is that every patient needs a good primary care doctor to act as the patient’s investigator, advocate and coordinator within the medical system. While discerning whether a particular doctor fits the bill can be difficult, Malone gives real world advice of how to identify top notch primary care doctors. Malone admonishes that every patient should procure

and read their medical records. He sites the tragedy of errors in the case of Richard Semsker (yes, that Semsker) as an example of how fatal mis-communication can be avoided through a knowledge of one’s own medical records. I understand the point, but wonder at the percentage of the general public who would be able to decipher without assistance the arcane jargon of medical records. I suspect that Malone’s retort would be that if one does not understand something in the records, ask questions. I found Malone’s brief chapter on medical statistics to be

brilliant in its clear and concise explanation of the statistics behind medical decision making. He explains the reasons that patients should always look behind the numbers when considering health care options. All is not as it seems. Te Life You Save could quite aptly be called the rules

of the road for patient self protection and advocacy. Malone knows well that one of the primary causes of avoidable medical errors is the passive role we, as patients, allow for ourselves in the medical machine that is the modern health care process. He knows that when patients take a passive role in that process they run a grave risk of falling through the cracks in the safety nets that are supposed to protect them from errors. His overriding message to us as patients is to be pro-active. Take notes, ask questions, and get second or third opinions. Know the background of your doctor. Have an advocate with you at significant health care encounters. Do not simply accept that the health care provider is doing the right thing. In Te Life You Save, Patrick Malone has accomplished something of which to be proud. He has taken his experience in dealing with the aftermath of tragedy wrought by avoidable medical errors and has turned it into a vehicle through which such errors and tragedy can be avoided. 

54 Trial Reporter / Summer 2010

Biography David J. Wildberger is a shareholder in the firm of Iliff

& Meredith, P.C. in Pasadena, Maryland. He received his J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law. Mr. Wildberger serves on the MAJ Board of Governors, and is the Chairperson of the Public Awareness & Outreach Committee, as well as a member of several other MAJ committees and sections. He is a member of the Maryland, District of Columbia and Federal Bars. His primary area of practice is the representation of individuals and families harmed by acts of medical negligence.

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