Patients who are victims of malpractice are almost never told what happened. And frequently it's impossible to tell what happened from the medical records. So I end up playing medical detective. And it can be tough finding the truth. We have to reconstruct the hospital records - the lab reports, the nurses' notes, the patient charts, the physician's so-called progress notes. The doctor's notes are supposed to be accurate and complete - you'd be surprised how often they are not. There may be 10 or 20 sources of information for a single patient. I'm very passionate about this entire area of the law, but in the final analysis it's critical that we properly understand the medicine, the science of a case.
There's a sacred trust between us and our clients. We are the only thing that the client has. When I'm on a trial, that's my life. I don't even get paid unless I collect for my client. We'll only take the case if we think it has merit. Are there frivolous cases? Sure. And attorneys should be punished for bringing them. But there are many cut-and-dried cases of negligence in medicine - and they are covered up. If I'm driving a car and I hit someone, it's my responsibility to my fellow citizen to call the police and turn myself in. Yet doctors, who have a fiduciary obligation to their patients routinely conceal their negligence from their patients. I call that "hit & run" malpractice.
The medical community protects people they shouldn't be protecting. About 95% of the negligence is committed by 5% of the physicians. Medicine has some structural problems to address. There's a saying: A general practitioner treats what he thinks you have - and the specialist thinks you have what he treats. In that saying is one of the problems of medicine today. If you want to solve the problem of soaring malpractice insurance premiums, the medical profession has to stop protecting incompetents. They say it's all solved by tort reform. Well, less than 6/10 of 1 percent of the nation's total medical budget goes to litigation related to malpractice. There are a lot of dishonest representations going on. The public doesn't hear the other side of it.
I've been a registered Republican all my life. But taking away the rights of injured patients isn't the answer. I know plenty of trial lawyers, and most of them are working hard at becoming former trial lawyers - it's the most tense, and intense, work you can find. Of course if you're a nut like me, you find it all very fulfilling. Life is what you make it. I've worked hard at it. I can't think of a greater trust than having a victim's case put into my hands.