What will Lizzie do now? (possible spoiler)

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I mentioned "possible spoiler" because it would be if you didn't see "The Dance We Do" from 12/7. Here goes:

It was pretty obvious during the deposition that Lizzie lied when she answered yes to the question of whether she'd done a full and proper check for csf. She also admitted it to Mark later and was feeling pretty guilty. She has a chance to do the right thing and also unburden her conscience by admitting that she lied and telling the truth, though this is surely signing the death warrant on her career. Will she take responsibility for what she did, intentional or not, or will she acknowledge it only to herself and try to get out of facing the consequences so as to save her career? Or would she perhaps be found guilty of a lesser charge than malpractice and receive some punishment but still be able to practice medicine? I'd like to see her 'fess up and cop to a lesser charge, since she never meant to paralyze the guy, and keep her career. Thoughts?

-- Shannon M. (mays@sec.gov), December 08, 2000


As a medical malpractice lawyer, let me explain the process in which Dr. Corday is involved. She is not "charged" with anything, she is being sued for negligence. Mr. Patterson is trying to recover monetary damages from her, not "punish" her by sending her to jail or take away her license to practise medicine. Neither of these things can happen as a result of a civil suit for negligence. If she were found negligent (not "guilty", which is an entirely different concept), County might decide to suspend or revoke her privileges to practise medicine in this hospital. That is very unlikely, since doctors make mistakes every day, and most doctors in high risk specialities have been sued (particularly in the US, as Elizabeth noted) - it doesn't mean they are bad doctors,only that they are human beings performing invasive procedures where there is always a chance that something will go wrong. County wouldn't really be justified in taking away her privileges unless there was a pattern of negligence, or incompetence, which there isn't. Even if County gave her the boot, she could practise at another hospital unless the State Licensing Board took away her license to practise medicine, which they don't have grounds to do.

-- Queen Fun (quof@hotmail.com), December 08, 2000.

Oops - good thing I'm not Lizzie's lawyer! Thanks for the explanation. One more question - if Lizzie's not in danger of losing her license, why was it mentioned to her (I think by her lawyer) as a worst-case scenario?

Thanks again,


-- Shannon M. (mays@sec.gov), December 08, 2000.

Because the writers have medical consultants, but not legal ones!

-- Queen Fun (quof@hotmail.com), December 08, 2000.

Sounds like a possible job opening for you...:-)

-- Shannon M. (mays@sec.gov), December 08, 2000.

Thank you Queen Fun for your expert analysis of the situation. It is doubtful Liz would lose her privileges at County over this, she has generally been an excellent surgeon, and a pattern of repeated negligence is required to lose privileges. Mr. Patterson could request the state medical board investigate her actions, but it would not find enough reason to pull her license. Her lawyer's comments about her license were just wrong, he also didn't seem to have prepared her very well; she should fire him or report him for malpractice perhaps. The deposition was also poorly done. The lawyers' attitudes were right on, but nowhere in any operative note would a casual comment about excess fluid in the operative site be mentioned. And there also would have been no way for Shirley's remarks reminding Corday of the time be accessible either. In the real world, this depostion would take place at least a year and a half after the fact, nobody would remember such trivial details, so no one would bring it up. Same thing with Jesse's death and her previous relationship with Peter, these facts would have been difficult to uncover by the usual means. It would have been much more realistic if Corday had casually mentioned to Mr. Patterson that she was leaving for the weekend while she was initially examining him and he told his lawyer about it later. Or if he was told his case was delayed because Corday was working on the relative of another doc. Then the lawyer would have had a basis to ask about it. As Chief of Staff, Romano has an obligation to protect the hospital and would not have been very chatty in his deposition either, since Corday is a hospital employed physician and they would have to pay. How do I know this stuff? Let's just say I've practiced obstetrics for 14 years. 80% of all obstetricians in the US have been sued at least once, the rest haven't practiced long enough.

-- Sharon (smikol4321@aol.com), December 10, 2000.

I thought they must have gotten the info. about what was actually said during the procedure from Mr. Patterson. Remember, he was awake the whole time, conversing with them. If I were him, I would probably remember little comments like "there's leaking fluid" because as the patient it would have scared me and made me pay extra attention to what was going on.

-- Becky (pattonrd@muohio.edu), December 11, 2000.

In real life she might not be in danger of losing her license, but we're dealing with tv "reality" here; remember how incensed everyone was that Romano was able to punish Peter's whistle-blowing, and got away with it? So what we need to know is what the writers' perceptions of the possible consequences are, and unfortunately we're not mind-readers. I hate to see Elizabeth lying, but if, in the "reality" of the show, she could lose her license, that would leave her child without a father (assuming Mark dies) and with a mother unable to support them. Of course I guess she could become a medical consultant to a tv show.

-- Felicity (felicity08@juno.com), December 11, 2000.

When I saw the deposition scenes, I was very moved -- and very surprised at a few things. First of all, would a lawyer REALLY make a [totally inappropriate] comment about defendant's appearance? Saying he didn't realize Elizabeth was so stunning ... jeez! Secondly, I was amazed that Elizabeth let that attorney badger her so much ... and that her own attorney didn't step in and prevent her from incriminating herself. I don't blame her for not telling the whole truth about performing a thorough examination ... I think she realized at that point that she was in a pretty deep hole and should stop digging!

-- Cindy (tailchasers51@hotmail.com), December 11, 2000.

As far as the lawyer commenting on Corday's appearance: yup. A common technique is to ingratiate yourself with the defendant, to get them to let their guard down. A former partner of mine was asked all kinds of questions about her kids, the guy even wanted to see photos, commented on what big handsome boys they were. Sleazy, but effective. She didn't even realize what he was doing until later.

As far as Mr. Patterson's recollections, he would have been given a sedative like versed during the procedure and would not have remembered much. Also his lawyer clearly stated that the anesthesiologist's comments were in the operative report which Corday would have dictated. In real life, she wouldnot have put idle remarks in her note, and the anesthesiologist wouldn't have put that remark in his charting either. He also told the exact time these comeents were made,and Mr. Patterson was in no position to see the clock.

-- Sharon (smikol4321@aol.com), December 11, 2000.

Sharon, that's true about Mr. Patterson's recollections, and Elizabeth making idle remarks...But what about Romano's role in all this? Perhaps he "gleaned" (read: coerced) additional information from the anesthesiologist about what was said. (Rocket was on her case about wanting to leave early even before the incident occurred, remember.) And since Romano was named in the suit, I'd expect him to go looking for such information to save his own skin and deny any liablility on his part.

I'm still wondering if we would get to see him deposed (I doubt it, though), and what would be said. Who knows, he might have screwed something up royally himself, in his "saving" operation--he's no more a neurosurgeon than Lizzie is, after all. Of course, he would comport himself much more smoothly in court than Elizabeth does. (Come to think of it, I said the same thing in reference to the "whistleblowing" incident, and the repercussions thereof, which we never saw. He's a weasel, and a good one.)

-- Cecelia (evilstoat@hotmail.com), December 11, 2000.

Cecelia, wouldn't Romano's best chance to cover his own bases be to make Elizabeth look as good as possible? After all, if it was proved that she was not at fault, then there would nothing for him to be an accomplice to. (I realize that's not exactly the right terminology, but that's the best I could do).

-- Felicity (felicity08@juno.com), December 11, 2000.

Well, I don't know. We never got any real information on what exactly he was being sued for, just that he was "named in the suit." (I believe that's what he said.)

-- Cecelia (evilstoat@hotmail.com), December 11, 2000.

As Chief of Staff of the hospital, Romano has an obligation to protect the hospital's interests. If he somehow slipped in some kind of incriminating comments about Elizabeth into his depostion, it would get back to the Board of Trustees and he'd be job hunting soon afterward. Since he wasn't present at the first surgery, anything he said would be hearsay anyway. Also, the first thing your lawyer tells you is not to volunteer any information. To protect himself, all Romano has to do is show he came to see Mr.Patterson in a timely fashion, diagnosed the problem, and corrected it promptly. Hanging Corday out to dry won't help him a bit and will hurt the hosptial as the lawyer for the plaintiff will ask how a doctor as negligent as Corday ever stayed on staff. Makes him look bad as her boss too. I guess Dr. Babcock and Shirley could have also been present at the second surgery and mentioned these things to Romano who later passed them along. This would be a much better story than the one the writers came up with. The plaintiffs attorney stated he had gotten the information from the operative report. That kind of information would not have been in the op report dictated by Corday. I even rewound the tape and double checked. That's what he said, and it is not something that would ever occur in the real world.

-- Sharon (smikol4321@aol.com), December 11, 2000.

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