One Family's Legal Struggles in the World of Medicine

by Barry Werth

In this powerful tale of a medical malpractice suit, the villains are not doctors, lawyers, nurses, midwives, hospitals or victims, though all were deeply involved.

Instead, one of the laywers in the case pointed to "the system" as the culprit of an incident in a Norwalk, Connecticut, hospital where twins were born, one brain damaged and the other dead. Such cases of malpractice are often decided not on the basis of fact but on the perception of what a jury was likely to think was fact, shows Werth (also the author of The Billion-Dollar Molecule: One Company's Quest for the Perfect Drug.

It was uncertain that the blame lies anywhere; it may have been an indeterminable prenatal accident, but it was incumbent on the parent's lawyers to attribute blame and on the hospital to avoid it by various defenses, including placing the guilt on the apparently innocent attending physician. And over all hung the palpable power of the insurance companies. During the seven years of discovery, jockeying and conniving, the attempted deal-making and final settlement for $6 million, one doctor's career was nearly ruined and the lives of the parents of the remaining twin were changed by the emotional and financial strains of caring for their permanently damaged child. In the end, in 1993, all sides settled without going to trial, which they all feared. A moving, skillfully told story with many morals about justice, the legal and medical professions, hospital procedures, administrators, insurance companies and parents.

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