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on August 3, 2010
Any physician who has ever been served a malpractice claim knows how very frightening the experience can be. From that moment, you suffer enormous anxiety until, and even beyond, the ultimate resolution of your case. When a subpoena strikes, many people wish they had a lawyer in the family, but few are so fortunate. However, there is one way that every physician can be armed in advance for what is nowdays an almost inevitable experience: Get a map.

How to Survive a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit: The Doctor's Roadmap for Success (Wiley) by Dr. Ilene Brenner is one of the best books I have read on the subject. As a litigation stress specialist, I've read more than my share in this genre and put this volume in a class with the excellent, if under-utilized, Adverse Events, Stress and Litigation, by Sara Charles and Paul Frisch (Oxford, 2005). Both books have as principal authors, physicians who have been directly harmed by malpractice litigation. What distinguishes these two from others on the topic is that these authors have transcended the experience and are able to dispense a wealth of practical advice untainted by rancor.
Dr. Brenner is an EP and child of a med-mal defense attorney, so her writing reflects a lifetime of vicarious experiences. Dr. Charles, on the other hand, is a psychiatrist and well-known authority on the phenomenon of malpractice litigation stress. It's no surprise, then, that Brenner focuses on the practical approach to litigation while Charles attends more to physicians' emotional needs. Brenner does not ignore the psychology - with a degree in the subject herself she aptly devotes an entire chapter to the topic. But the vast majority of the book - 9 chapters - comprises a syllogistic explanation of the process of litigation, along with a comprehensive guide through the legal maze for the uninitiated. She carefully explains steps to take, issues to address, and pitfalls to avoid in order to successfully negotiate the perilous litigation journey. Especially valuable is her advice regarding conflict of interest and selection of an attorney. Most physicians do not realize they can influence attorney selection. Brenner explains precisely when and why it is necessary to have separate representation, such as when you and the hospital are assigned the same attorney by a mutual carrier. Brenner details the methods of securing appropriate representation, including appeals, and other methods of influencing your carrier. Readers of EPM will recognize the sound and pithy advice Brenner dispenses about deposition and trial testimony, which merit close review prior to each such event. These sections and others in the first half of the book are exceptionally well written, specific and easy to follow.

The second half of the book is devoted to a practical discussion of preventive measures and reduction of overall risk of malpractice claims. The book contains an excellent appendix of state laws relating to expert witness requirements, alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, and collateral source rules, followed by a comprehensive glossary of legal terms of art. In addition, there is a very short synopsis of all chapters at the end that is such an excellent tool it's practically worth keeping in your pocket.

The weaknesses of Dr. Brenner's book are few in relation to its many strengths. Several sweeping statements about the law or the requirements of insurers seem to be based on the author's experience in only one or a few states or insurers. As an example, the precautionary statement is made that, outside of your attorney or spouse, anyone else you speak to about your case can be called or deposed as a witness. Actually, a deposition can be demanded of anyone whose testimony might shed light on a case (including, in fact, your spouse); however, such a demand would be successfully countered in any case where testimony from the deponent is privileged. In most states there are other protected categories of individuals beyond a spouse or attorney, such as your physician or counselor or clergy or trial consultant whose testimony would be privileged, even as regards the details of the case.

In contradistinction, Charles' book emphasizes strongly the urgent emotional need for physicians in litigation to unburden themselves, and specifies those with whom such discussions are safe, (e.g. privileged) as outlined above.

Some of the wisest advice dispensed by Brenner concerns measures - like having your own separate malpractice policy with a consent-to-settle clause - that really must be taken in advance of any adverse event or claim. Therefore, as with all risk management advice, readers would be well advised to read the second half of the book BEFORE they are sued.

As Brenner's book is intended to be a road map, not a retrospective, physicians should actually READ it before the specter of malpractice raises its ugly head. And then, if and when litigation strikes, read it again. I would also strongly recommend that physicians get and keep Charles' Adverse Events for ready reference. When litigation or an untoward outcome strikes and you feel lost - which, in pursuit of our profession will inevitably happen sometime - these two books will help guide you home.
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on June 5, 2010
Dr Brenner has written a book from which all physicians can gain a better understanding of the malpractice system. She has a unique perspective in that she is a practicing physician with medico-legal experience. The book is easy to read and I appreciate the glossary of legal terminology. Even if you have not been sued, this is a great book to read. Every physician should have this book on their shelf.
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on February 5, 2013
This book is a must have for any physician in a legal suit or suitable for ALL doctors who want to learn what being sued means. Very practical with references available. If you think a better book is out there, STOP LOOKING!! Buy this and keep it as a reference book. Dr. Brenner thank you so much!!!
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on May 1, 2015
This is an outstanding book that every physician should read prior to their deposition, and before trial and cross examination. This book should be given to all physicians by their attorneys during the initial attorney-cliant interview,especially if a deposition or more is to occur. Everything is explained clearly, its very detailed, it could be read in one day. The book is very well written. Wish I had written it myself.
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on March 23, 2011
A must have for the doctor. Informative, compassionate. Thank you Dr Brenner for writing this book. I wish I could ask her questions.
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on March 21, 2016
Easy read. Excellent info. Highlight import parts and study them before each step in the process. Don't stop reading here! Tremendous overview.
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on May 30, 2015
Every doctor should read this book in medical school. Protect yourself!
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on October 15, 2014
Very well written.
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on September 11, 2010
|TITLE| How to Survive a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
· Ilene R. Brenner, M.D.
· Board Certified Emergency Physician
· Adjunct Professor Neil Hudgson School of Nursing
· Emory University
· Atlanta, Georgia
· U.S.A.
· Josh Grossman, Colonel {r}, U.S. Army Medical Corps, M.D., F.A.C.P
· Advanced Cardiac Life Support {A.C.L.S.} Instructor
· Mark Plaster, M.D., J.D.
· Editor-in-Chief Emergency Physician's Monthly
|ISBN| 978-1-4443-3130-1
|BOOK TYPE| Soft cover

"Un asno viejo sabe mais que un potro
An old ass knows more than a young colt"...
Antonio Xavier Perez y Lopez {1}

This valued text by Emory University Emergency Medicine Professor Ilene R. Brenner, M.D. with a forward by Mark Plaster, M.D., J.D., and Editor-in-Chief of Emergency Physician's Monthly covers our ongoing medical malpractice crisis in only 155 pages. Nothing is sacred! Nothing is left out! Even before we are sued for malpractice as ever-increasing numbers of us practicing physicians are, we are told to destroy our personal journals, to document cautiously, and to listen carefully in a sitting position to our patients. When we are sued and we are caught up in the Kafkaesque {2} (all-encompassing) nightmare of a medical malpractice suit we are to listen carefully to our defense attorneys who are representing us, only us, so that there will be no conflict-of-interest between us and our healthcare provider-employer; if and when our defense attorney tells us that we need to meet; then, we must meet; further if and when our defense attorney tells us to purchase a new suit {with matching accessories} each and every day of our medical malpractice trail we will purchase our new trial clothing..
Our defense attorney is our Commanding Officer when we are sued for medical malpractice and we will obey! Our medical malpractice trial is a war against the plaintiff attorney who may well change our medical professional career, reduce our assets, and limit our medical professional privileges and list us in the National Practitioner Data Bank, that may well limit our ability to practice our Art and Science of our Profession of Medicine.
It is reasonable for any and all allied healthcare provider professionals to obtain their own personal copy of this valued text.

1. Antonio Xavier Perez y Lopez {1794-1876) a.k.a. Santa Anna
2. Franz Kafka (1883 - 1924) Novels: "The Trial, The Castle and Amerika"
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