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You Feel Awful Suing Your Doctor. Your Guilt Eats Away at You Each Night. You Decide You're Going to Write Him an Apology Letter. Is That a Good Idea?

You trusted him.

You put your life in his hands.

He was great to you.

He always treated you well.

Until he didn't.

Until one day he was careless.

Until one visit when he failed to do what he should have done.

He failed to follow up on those tests.

As a result, months went by without any treatment.

In fact, more than a year went by without any medical intervention.

You later learn you have advanced metastatic cancer.

Your treating oncologist asks for all of your doctor's records.

He wants to review everything in the past few years.

Your oncologist calls you into his office to chat.

He asks you questions about your past treatment.

He asks you what complaints you made to your primary care doctor going back more than a year.

He asks what tests you had done around that same time.

He then asks specific pointed questions...

"Did he do this test?"

"Did he order that test?"

"Did he send you out for this imaging test?"

"Did he do a biopsy on you?"

"Did he recommend you see a specialist to evaluate your complaint?"

He's fishing.

He's fishing for answers.

He's trying to understand why your cancer was not detected and treated for over a year.

He comes to the unmistakable conclusion that your primary care doctor failed to follow up on your complaints and test results.

Your oncologist tells you in details that if you had received the correct and proper medical treatment at that time, your cancer would be localized at Stage I and you could have had an excisional biopsy and that would have been it.

Instead, the cancer went undetected and spread.

Now, it's spread throughout your entire body.

Now, even with chemotherapy, your life expectancy is severely diminished.

"You'll be lucky if you live another six months," he says with finality.

This is devastating.

Not only for your diagnosis, but because you trusted your doctor.

Because you had faith in him.

You trusted his experience.

You thought he'd never let you down.

Turns out that because he violated the basic standards of medical care, your life was going to be cut short. 

Dramatically short.

For no reason other than his carelessness.

You and your spouse agree, that for the sake of your kids, you have no choice but to start a lawsuit against the doctor whom you once loved going to.

You and your spouse agree that your lawsuit will likely outlive you.

You are the primary breadwinner in your house.

What will happen to your kids and spouse when you are no longer around to support them financially?

Will your doctor pay for their schooling? 

Will he pay for their tuition?

Will he pay your mortgage so your family doesn't get thrown of your house?

Will he pay for your groceries and car?

The answer is, of course not.

That's what prompted her to file a lawsuit against her doctor.

Her treating cancer specialist confirmed she had a valid case.

He confirmed her primary care doctor violated the standard of care.

He confirmed that because of the primary care doctor's carelessness, her cancer went untreated.

He confirmed that the cancer had spread and would kill her within months even with treatment now.

Her attorney went ahead and started a lawsuit on her behalf.

A few months later, she woke up in the middle of the night with terrible pangs of guilt.

Guilt that she sued her doctor.

Guilty that she was trying to get money from him as compensation for her injuries and shortened life expectancy.

She never sued anyone in her life.

She didn't want to ruin his professional reputation.

She didn't want to ruin his medical practice.

She didn't want him to feel bad about her having to file a lawsuit.

What did she do?

She decided one night to write her doctor an apology letter.

A letter that explained why she had to sue him.

A letter that discussed her reasons for bringing a medical malpractice case against him personally along with his professional corporation.

She did this in the middle of the night.

When everybody was asleep.

This letter went on for many pages.

All handwritten.

In script.

It went on for ten pages.

She decided to pour her heart out to her doctor.

She explained how much she trusted him and loved him as only a patient could.

She praised his skill, knowledge and expertise...at least up until her misdiagnosis.

She reminded him of all the holiday and Christmas gifts she'd bring him as tokens of her appreciation.

She truly hoped this long-winded letter would start a dialogue with her doctor.

She believed, in her heart of hearts, that her primary care doctor would not be angry with her for filing her lawsuit.

She hoped he'd call her to talk.

She hoped he'd actually stop by the house one day to check in on her progress with her cancer treatment.

Before sending the letter, she decided to run it by her attorney.

Do you know what the attorney said?

"Are you crazy?"he said.

"What the hell are you doing, writing to the doctor you are suing?"

"Don't you know that writing can be used against you during your pretrial testimony and also at trial in front of a jury?"

It's true.

It can and will be used against her if she sends it out.

The defense attorney will extract every piece of favorable information in that heartfelt letter to establish that his client is a wonderful person.

That he's a dedicated doctor.

That the two of them had a great bond and trusted each other.

The defense lawyer will also do everything to show the patient only started her lawsuit in an effort to extract money from the doctor.

The reality is no matter how much guilt you're feeling, you never, ever send this type of letter to the doctor.

This letter will be used against you and your claim.

Her belief that her doctor would begin having a dialogue with her was 100% mistaken.

The defense lawyer will tell his client, the doctor, that under no circumstance is he to have any communication with you.

Just like your letter can be used against you, any conversation the doctor initiates can be used against him during cross examination at trial.

To learn even more about how you will feel during a medical malpractice trial, I invite you to watch the quick video below...

 


Gerry Oginski
NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer