Friday, December 14, 2012

Exception to the Petrillo Doctrine

In virtually all personal injury cases, trial lawyers rely on the testimony of treating doctors to prove the extent of an injury and to connect cause to injury.  That being said the communications between injured parties and their physicians are privileged:  defense attorneys are prohibited from speaking to treating doctors or their offices regarding the nature and extent of any injury and associated causes prior to deposition.

According to the Petrillo Doctrine which prevents any ex parte communications between defense counsel and plaintiff's treaters:

"the fiduciary relationship existing between the patient and physician requires, at the very minimum, that the patient has a right to rest assured that the physician will act in good faith, while at the same time, the physician complies with court-authorized discovery.  Thus, when a patient files suit, the physician should be prepared to release those records relevant to the condition placed at issue, be available to give depositions, and be prepared to testify, should he be called upon to do so....Discussion of the patient's confidences under any other circumstances, such as the ex parte conference, could be inconsistent with the duties of...the physician.... The ex parte conference involves conduct which could be violative of the duties of a fiduciary and would, therefore, be contrary to public policy favoring the fiduciary nature of the physician-patient relationship."  Petrillo v. Syntex Laboratories, Inc., 148 Ill. App. 3d 581, 594-95, 499 N.E.2d 952 (1st Dist. 1986).

There are exceptions to this rule, several exceptions actually.  One statutory exception to the Petrillo Doctrine is found in 735 ILCS 5/8-802.  Ex parte communications between defense counsel and treating doctors is acceptable in civil actions against the physician for malpractice.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Celebrity Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

According to a study performed by Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, Doctors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, after heart disease and cancer.

Every year unnecessary surgery is responsible for roughly 12,000 deaths;
Roughly 7,000 are killed as a result of medication errors;
20,000 people are killed as a result of other hospital mistakes;
80,000 are killed because of hospital acquired infections; and
106,000 are killed by the very drugs prescribed to them.

Make no mistake, we are fond of our doctors.  Yet doctors are human, and everyone makes mistakes.  However, when a medical mistake occurs, accountability is key. A mistake has been made, and the person who has been injured deserves a remedy. Sometimes a doctor mistake results in catastrophe.

Celebrities in the United States have access to some of the best medical treatment in the country.  However, even celebrities have been injured or even killed because of doctor mistakes. For example,

Dana Carvey sued his heart surgeon after the doctor operated on the wrong artery during a double bypass in 1998.  Carvey successfully brought the medical malpractice claim, and stated, "This lawsuit, from the beginning, was about accountability and doing everything I could to make sure that it wouldn't happen to someone else."

Julie Andrews successfully brought a claim against a doctor who operated on non-cancerous nodules in her throat. The doctor operated on both sides of her vocal cord when the surgery should not have been performed on the right side.  This surgery ended her career as a singer.

John Ritter's family successfully sued his heart doctors for medical malpractice in the wake of his untimely death. His doctors misdiagnosed a tear in his aorta as a heart attack.

Dennis Quaids' new born twins were accidentally diagnosed with 1,000 times the amount of blood thinner they were supposed to have received at Ceders-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles.  The Quaid family started a foundation to remedy the "conspiracy of silence" adhered to by doctors, nurses, hospitals, and insurance companies and to create transparency in the wake of medical malpractice.