Tag Archives: med mal

Mommy anxiety – med mal style

21 Jan

I’ve always said that we see the worst of the worst outcomes in medical malpractice law.   I’ve  had that conversation with a couple of different paralegals that I’ve trained, who started to get that “deer in the headlights” look after a short while on the job.  For every surgery where there is an unexpected complication, finding missed on an x-ray, or simple human error, there are millions of cases where everything goes well.  Of course, those people don’t sue, so we never see those. 

After a while though, the worst case scenario becomes ingrained.  I’m already a worrier, but when I decided to get pregnant and then had my son, the worry grew exponentially. 

No matter how “seasoned” you are at doing med mal, or how many times you remind yourself that you only see the worst, it can affect you.  A young paralegal that I was training during my pregnancy decided to come to my office for the express purpose of telling me the horror story of a gruesome obstetrical case she read about in an expert’s testimonial history.  Why on earth would you tell a pregnant woman about an infant that was decapitated because an ER doc at a rural hospital decided to try to deliver the baby breech?  WHY?  That paralegal left the firm and I later heard that she was pregnant.  I ignored the impulse to call her and see if she thought it was a good idea to hear about that case again. 

Every mother has enough to worry about when they get pregnant.  But knowing those worst case scenarios is almost like torture.  It didn’t help that I got my first labor and delivery case right before I got pregnant.  It was a case dealing with meconium aspiration that lead to brain damage in the baby.   I suppose the universe thought it would be funny if everything that happened to the mom in that case, except for the meconium aspiration, happened to me.  Oh, fun times.  The universe is perverse.   

Oh, and the worry doesn’t stop when you finally deliver that beautiful, healthy child.  Before I was pregnant, I was also assigned a case about a young child who had a severe respiratory infection, bronchiolitis to be exact, and died.  Naturally, my 3 month old son developed bronchiolitis and had a lot of problems with wheezing.  Cue the massive anxiety.  The ER trips.  The nights just sitting and watching him breathe to make sure he didn’t stop. I actually got more anxious when he was better and not wheezing anymore.  When he wasn’t wheezing, I couldn’t hear him breathing from his cradle near my bed.  I had to touch him to make sure he was breathing.  Thank you, universe. 

I’ve been very lucky.  My son didn’t have aspiration issues during birth or brain damage.  He didn’t develop respiratory distress during his illness to the point that he needed assistance breathing.  It seems there were a million other little things that happened to my son in his first year.  I was beginning to worry that people would think I had Munchausens by Proxy.  I didn’t want the attention and I certainly didn’t want the medical bills. 

Sometimes I feel lucky that I have learned a lot about medicine by doing med mal law.  If I don’t already know what a certain medicine does, or what the doctor is talking about, I know where to get reliable information.  Sometimes I really wish I didn’t know any of it.  But then my mom will talk to me about her doctor’s appointment and I can clarify things for her.  Or someone asks me a question and I can help them.  Then I’m happy that I have that ability.  I just wish the universe would leave my son out of it!   Can you see me when he starts driving and I remember all of those car accident cases I worked on?  I might need to start talking myself down from that now.