AAOS Bulletin - February, 2006

Book Review:

Medical Malpractice: How to Prevent and Survive a Suit

By Richard A. Geline, MD, and William J. Holt, MD

The legal arena is as mysterious and scary to physicians as the operating room is to most patients. Medical Malpractice: How to Prevent and Survive a Suit attempts to reduce the fear and the mystery surrounding a medical liability lawsuit by educating physicians about the medical liability legal process.

Written for practicing physicians, this is not a textbook but a guidebook. Although it is written in a casual style, it does not skimp on details. Most of the editors—Richard J. Nasca, MD; Lee A. Whitehurst, MD, JD; Louise B. Andrew, MD, JD, FACEP; and David E. Attarian, MD, FACS—are orthopaedic surgeons, and the contributors include attorneys, risk management experts and other physicians.

In 30 short, readable chapters—beginning with a discussion of why patients sue and how to be protected in these lawsuits—the book discusses each of the participants’ roles in a lawsuit and the steps involved in the process. It also tackles important issues such as good communication and proper documentation, and more substantive legal issues such as the elements of a lawsuit, standard of care and proximate cause.

Excellent advice is provided regarding the defendant physician’s conduct during the course of a lawsuit, including the need to be active, informed and part of his or her defense. The importance of the deposition and evaluating the expert witness are also covered. Other chapters deal with alternative dispute resolution, asset protection and interactions with your state disciplinary board. The book also discusses the emotional stress of a lawsuit and how to manage this stress.

As in any multiauthored volume, there is some repetition of information and variation in style, but the editors have kept this to a minimum. Most chapters are factual, but some are very anecdotal and based solely upon the author’s personal experience.

Overall, Medical Malpractice: How to Prevent and Survive a Suit is a source of valuable information. Its casual style makes the subject less intimidating, while its comprehensive approach provides a wealth of information. This book should certainly help any physician who is currently in the midst of a lawsuit and those who simply want to be less mystified by the legal process.

Nasca RJ, Whitehurst LA, Andrew LB, Attarian DE (eds.): Medical Malpractice: How to Prevent and Survive a Suit. Brooklandville, MD, Data Trace Publishing Co., 2005.

Richard A. Geline, MD, and William J. Holt, MD, are members of the AAOS Professional Liability Committee.

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