Movin’ Meat: Malpractice and John Ritter

Movin’ Meat: Malpractice and John Ritter

A really nice summary of the EM and the risks of a famous case.


  1. This is a sad case that illustrates why tort reform should be a nationwide policy, not just something we are fortunate enough to have in Texas. It’s tragic when a young person dies so suddenly. But are tens of millions of dollars going to change that?

    I don’t know all the details of this case. I’d like to see what the EKG looked like. Regardless of the EKG, if a CXR was not done it certainly should have been. Not that it will pick up on every dissection, but it’s nice to know if the mediastinum is markedly abnormal. Particularly if you’re going to give heparin, lovenox, lytics, etc. I gave Heparin one time as a resident without a chest film and I got reemed for it. Something we should all keep in mind.

    I read somewhere that the family was planning to use the millions they may be “entitled” to in order to start a foundation to educate people about aortic dissection. Given the infinitely small number of people ultimately diagnosed with aortic dissection, how useful is spending millions on a foundation to educate the public? What will ultimately come of it? Are you going to spend millions and millions telling people to go to the ER if they experience chest pain? Isn’t that pretty much common knowledge? We’re not talking about a common disease here. I don’t think such a foundation would save anyone’s life at all.

    It’s not politically correct to tell a grieving family to get a grip. No one will do it publicly. But it seems to me to be a matter of decency and common sense for a family, despite their grieving, to sit back and say “Call off the dogs, this isn’t right.” I’m sure they have some med mal attorney whispering in their ear about how they were wronged and they should go after every penny. But for the love of God, how much money should a person really be able to go after?

  2. This was literally a one-in-a-million case… and I would have done exactly as those docs did.

    The truth is scary… and the truth is this: there’s a patient out there with every one of our names on him. The key is getting to retirement without encountering that patient… because you WILL miss it, and you WILL be sued for doing so. It’s just bad luck if you happen to catch that patient on your shift.

    And “deserve” has nothing to do with it.