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Rated: E · Editorial · Legal · #1347710
Medical malpractice, to sue or not to sue... that is the question.
Medical Malpractice, A True Story

I like a close shave, most men do, but not when it comes to medical malpractice.  In my particular case, I could have sued the local hospital and easily won; instead, I chose not to sue and I'll touch on that in a moment. 

Several years ago I broke my right arm while doing curls on a weight machine.  I didn't know immediately that it was broken, it was a stress fracture and it felt like I had merely pulled a muscle.  I wrapped it with an ace bandage when I got home and didn't think much about it.  The next morning I had a feeling that it was more than just a strain. I had almost no strength in my right hand and could barely hold my coffee cup unless I supported my forearm with my other hand.  I re-wrapped my arm with the ace wrap and headed off to the hospital.

Since I wasn't bleeding all over the place there was no need to attend to me quickly; however, in filling out the usual paperwork the nurse noticed that I was having fairly severe pain as I tried to write.  I had a few x-rays taken and according to the doctor on duty there was no break.  I was advised to keep the wrap on it until it felt better, but I was going to do that anyway.  Slowly, very slowly actually, the strength returned to my grip and I felt confident enough to go try the weigh machine once again.  After all, it had been six weeks,  that muscle or tendon or whatever had to be fully healed by now.  It even felt like there was a bit thicker bone in the area too, so I was certain it was completely healed.

My buddy, Randy, met me at the weight machine.  We were going to take turns doing increasingly heavier curls until we hit our limit,  then we were going to do increasingly lighter reps as a sort of aerobic cool-down.  I never got to the cool-down part.  When I got to five reps of seventy pounds, almost my limit, suddenly the bar and weights went flying out of my hands.  The accompanying crack sounded like a dried stick being broken over a raised knee.  I crouched in pain for a moment as Randy mentioned how loud the snap had been.  Man, oh man, did it ever hurt.  We both decided I should go to the hospital again.

Ironically, the same doctor that treated me before was on duty again, except this time my arm was undoubtedly broken.  The doctor mentioned that it was unusual to have a calcium build up in my forearm and I reminded him that several weeks before he had personally assured me that it wasn't broken.  The look on his face was almost sheer terror as his memory was viciously jolted and then whipped back to the present.  Now he was scared that I was going to sue for malpractice and end his career before it ever really got started. 

He started to explain how stress or hair-line fractures can be missed in certain x-rays due to the angle and so on, but I wasn't interested, I just wanted my arm fixed.  So when he finally ran out of steam I asked him to just set it and put a cast on it.  He wanted an assistant or witness so we waited a little while longer while I assured him that I wasn't going to sue.  I stressed though, that it wasn't because I was being nice to him; I just didn't want to add any weight to my conscience by knowing that I was one of the jerks who made malpractice what it is today.  I did playfully tap him on the back of his head as I was leaving with the cast he'd just freshly put on my arm.  I was back to being a lefty for a while once again, but I wasn't going to be a jerk about it.

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