Dr. Andy

Reflections on medicine and biology among other things

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Why doctors are cranky

The widow of the eminent evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould filed a wrongful-death lawsuit on Friday against doctors at two of Boston's most prominent hospitals, accusing them of negligence because, she said, they inexplicably failed to notice a tumor that ultimately tripled in size and caused Dr. Gould to die of cancer
I can't comment on the validity of this case, although my impression is it is unlikely the cancer was curable at the time of the first x-ray.

What I find amazing is that included is a defendant is Dr. Robert Mayer, who treated Gould for his first cancer, which was eventually cured, was among those named.

That is being a doctor in America today. You save someone's life from cancer, they unluckily develop a second cancer and die and the widow sues your ass. The cure rate from Gould's first tumor, GIST or gastrointestinal stromal tumor was under 10%. So if he had died of that, his widow would have had no recourse. But since Mayer saved him, she can now sue for millions.

Next time you complain about the cost of your insurance or copayments, or wonder why we order so many tests, think about the lessons of this case.

UPDATE: A somewhat different take here. The creationists are a bit like weeds, they'll take any opening you give them.


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