A Doc Named Sued

By Scott LaFee

December 23, 2015 6 min read

Medscape, a web-based resource for physicians and health professionals, recently surveyed 4,000 primary care doctors and selected specialists to find out if they had ever been sued and why.

Just under 60 percent said they had been named in at least one malpractice lawsuit. Obstetricians and gynecologists were sued most often, followed by surgeons, orthopedic specialists, radiologists and anesthesiologists. Male physicians are somewhat more likely to be sued than female physicians.

The most common reasons for being sued: failure to diagnose, patient suffered an abnormal injury, failure to treat, poor documentation of patient instruction and education, errors in medication administration, failure to follow safety procedures and improperly obtaining or lack of informed consent.

Interestingly, 46 percent of doctors surveyed said that while plaintiff lawyers annoyed them, they felt the attorneys were just doing their jobs. Another third of doctors, however, responded, "I truly hate them."

Death is One of Those Things You Can Count On

In 2014, the 10 leading causes of death in the United States remained unchanged from 2013: heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, unintentional injuries (such as traffic fatalities), stroke, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease and suicide.

These top 10 accounted for 73.8 percent of all deaths in the U.S. in 2014.

Body of Knowledge

Earlier this year, the K computer in Japan, the fourth most powerful supercomputer in the world, required 40 minutes to simulate just one second of activity from 1 percent of a human brain.

Get Me That, Stat!

Diagnoses of HIV have declined precipitously over the past 10 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control, down 19 percent from 2005 to 2014. Approximately 40,000 Americans were diagnosed with the infection in 2014; with 1.2 million people currently living with HIV.

Number Cruncher

A large serving of Burger King's onion rings contains 550 calories, 243 from fat. It has 27 grams of total fat, or 42 percent of the recommended total fat intake for a 2,000-calorie daily diet.

It also contains 0 milligrams of cholesterol; 800 mg of sodium (33 percent); 70 grams of total carbohydrates (23 percent); 5 grams of dietary fiber (20 percent); 8 grams of sugar and 8 grams of protein.

Stories for the Waiting Room

Overuse of antibiotics is one of the main drivers of antibiotic resistance, and thus the persistent call by health and medical authorities to use discretion. Doctors who are listening, however, may be paying a price: A British survey found that physicians prescribing 25 percent fewer antibiotics than peers received 6 percent lower patient satisfaction scores.

Doc Talk

Sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia: the medical term for a "brain freeze," that painful sensation experienced when you eat ice cream or something cold too quickly.

Phobia of the Week

Katagelophobia: fear of ridicule

Never Say Diet

The speed-eating record for burritos (sprint version) is two 3-pounders in 3.25 seconds, held by Eric "Silo" Dahl. Warning: Most of these records are held by professional eaters; the rest by people who really should find something better to do.

Best Medicine

A patient is wheeled into the emergency room in obvious pain.

The nurse asks: "On a scale of zero to 10, with zero representing no pain and 10 representing excruciating pain, what would you say you pain level is now?"

Replied the patient: "I don't know. I've always been lousy at math."

Medical History

This week in 1993, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control announced that the smallpox virus stockpile would not be destroyed, reversing a prior decision. The last specimens of the virus to exist on Earth hare secured in storage in 600 frozen vials in Atlanta and Russia, ready to make vaccine should it ever again be necessary. The reversal was prompted by arguments that limited research on the virus should continue.

Sum Body

10 "superfoods" and their nutrient density scores (nutrients per calorie). It helps if you like dark, leafy greens.

1. Watercress, 100

2. Chinese cabbage, 91.99

3. Chard, 89.27

4. Beet green, 87.08

5. Spinach, 86.43

6. Chicory, 73.36

7. Leaf lettuce, 70.73

8. Parsley, 65.59

9. Romaine lettuce, 63.48

10. Collard green, 62.49


Helicobacter pylori is, quite literally, a "stomach bug." It's a bacterium usually found in the stomach, first identified in 1982. In the vast majority of people infected with H. pylori, there are no symptoms, but it has been linked to the development of duodenal ulcers and stomach cancer in some persons.

Translational Meds

Exomeprazole is marketed as Nexium, used to reduce acid produced in the stomach and treat conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. Sometimes it's used to prevent gastric ulcers caused by H. pylori bacteria or the chronic use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. There are many other so-called proton pump inhibitor drugs on the market, with names like Prilosec, Protonix and AdipHex.

Med School

Q: How many atoms are there in your body?

A: An estimated 7 octillion. That's a seven followed by 27 zeroes.

Last Words

"Yeah, country music."

Famed jazz drummer Buddy Rich (1917-1987). Rich died after surgery. His reply came to a question from a nurse during preparation. She asked, "Is there anything you can't take?"

To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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