July 1, 2022

It’s payback time for lawyers, says US doctor

A doctor fed up with medical liability cases created a public relations nightmare for his colleagues in the American Medical Association when he proposed that doctors should be able to ethically deny medical treatment to trial lawyers and their spouses.

Dr J. Chris Hawk II, a surgeon from South Carolina, said that his proposal was just a “wake-up call” and withdrew it after it had circulated for two weeks. But other AMA members were outraged.

Orthopaedic surgeon Dr John Cletcher said that the first rule of medicine was “do no harm” — and, he complained, “this resolution has done a great deal of harm.” Another doctor from Pennsylvania said that lobbyists for lawyers were now claiming that doctors were planning medical blackmail. Two Pennsylvania legislators had condemned the resolution.

But lawyers are not the only professionals under the gun of doctors.

According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, more and more doctors are suing each other over malpractice testimony. Some doctors claim that “bogus testimony” has helped to fuel soaring professional indemnity insurance. It is becoming more common for medical societies to assess expert testimony by their members to ensure that it is up-to-date and not financially motivated or scientifically wrong.