Thursday, February 16, 2012


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Mishpatim-Shekalim

24 Shevat 5772/February 17, 2012

“Did you hear what happened to my neighbors?” “No I didn’t hear anything. What happened?” “She wasn’t feeling well and her doctor told her she needed a certain medicine. After she began taking the medicine and began having severe headaches and seizures the doctor realized he put her on the wrong medicine.” “Did she sue? And is she feeling better?”

In America it seems the first question is always ‘did they sue?’

But here’s the fascinating truth. The risk of being sued for malpractice has very little to do with how many mistakes a doctor makes. Analysis of malpractice lawsuits shows that there are highly skilled doctors who are sued numerous times, and there are low profile doctors who make more mistakes and are never sued. In addition, most people who suffer injury due to shoddy medical care never sue at all.

Dr. Eric Campbell of Harvard Medical School recently conducted a survey of 1900 doctors and discovered that 20 % of doctors did not fully disclose a mistake to a patient, because they were afraid of being sued.

In his bestseller Blink, Malcom Gladwell notes that the reality is that patients who sue due so not only because of shoddy medical care, but also because they feel they were not sufficiently treated personally and courteously by the doctor. Patients don’t sue doctors they like. On average, surgeons who had never been sued spent more than three minutes longer with each patient than those doctors who had been sued did.

This concept rings true in the corporate world too. There is a definite bias towards employees who are more personable, friendly, and pleasant to be around. If a manager has to choose between two prospective employees, one of whom is slightly more experienced while the other is more likable and sociable, chances are the latter will land the job.

This all points to the old truism that we like being around people who make us feel good, and we don’t like being around people who make us feel uncomfortable.

When I discuss the concept of friendship with the fourth graders in Bais Hachinuch I note that a true friend is someone who – when you’re with him – makes you feel good about yourself!

The good news is that people are always able to improve socially if they are so inclined. Doctors may not need to have legible signatures, but there is definitely something to be said about his/her bedside manner.

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,

R’ Dani and Chani Staum