Thursday, May 31, 2007

Doctor Flea exposed in court

A legal blogger reports:
A Boston pediatrician blogging under the pseudonym Flea has been outed. It happened in court. During cross-examination. On his own medical malpractice trial. And now it is the top story in the Boston Globe.

Flea had written several posts about the upcoming trial, a wrongful death case involving a child. In the process he discussed his private prep sessions with his attorney, explaining how he had been coached to answer questions to be appealing to the jury, how he had been videotaped, and what materials his lawyers told him to read.
A lawyer would have surely advised him not to post blog opinions while the trial is pending. Conventional wisdom is that it can only hurt. The opposing lawyer will search thru all your comments, and pick out whatever makes you look bad. The judge will think that the trial belongs in his court only, and will not like any comments on blog. And the judge will certainly dislike any comments that make him look bad.

I started this blog knowing full well that if I had a lawyer then he would advise against the blog. He would say that it is too risky. I made the blog anonymous, but I knew full well that my wife would probably eventually discover it, and try to use it against me.

She did discover it, and then quietly waited until she could use it to maximal effectiveness. She told the judge about how I badmouthed the family court system, and told the court psychologist how I badmouthed inkblot tests. It didn't seem like any big deal to me, as I think that any reasonable person would be outraged by what I witnessed in family court.

I don't really know if this blog had any influence on any decision-makers in my case or not. It is too bad Doctor Flea settled his case, and it might have been a good experiment on how jurors might be influenced by some overly-candid online remarks. Some bloggers are assuming that Dr. Flea hurt his case by blogging, but I suspect that the case was in the control of insurance company lawyers, and they were very eager to settle just because they were nervous about having a client who goes against conventional wisdom. They like clients who do what they are told.

Update: There is still no public explanation for why Dr. Flea's case was settled, or why his blog was taken down. My guess is that Flea's insurance company lawyers didn't like him publicizing trial preparation tactics. Lawyers look after their own interests. The insurance company probably threatened Flea with a denial of coverage unless he shut down the blog and agreed to the settlement. I doubt that Flea voluntarily closed the blog, because it actually showed him to be pretty reasonable, and nothing really had any bearing on whether or not he owes any malpractice damages. A malpractice insurance policy will get you a legal defense, but possibly on terms dictated by the insurance company lawyers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Check his malpractice history.

Back | Home | How to Read a Profile

Board of Registration in Medicine
Physician Profile

Robert P. Lindeman, M.D.

I. Physician Information
(The information in sections I - VI has been provided by the physician.)

License Status: Active
License Issue Date: 12/22/1999
Accepting New Patients: Yes
Accepts Medicaid: Yes
Primary Work Setting: Private Office
Business Address: 67 Union Street
Suite 305
Natick, MA 01760

Phone: (508) 655-9699
Translation Services Available: None Reported
Insurance Plans Accepted: None Reported
Hospital Affiliations: Columbia/MetroWest Medical Center
Newton-Wellesley Hospital


II. Education & Training

Medical School: Columbia Univ. College of Physicians & Surgeons

Graduation Date: 1994

Post Graduate Training: Children's Hospital - Resident:Pediatrics (7/1/1994-6/30/1997)
Children's Hospital - Fellow:Pediatric Pulmonology (7/1/1997-6/30/2000)


III. Specialty

Area of Specialty: Pediatrics
Pediatric Pulmonology


IV. Board Certifications

American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS)
Board Name General Certification Subspecialty
Pediatrics Pediatrics Pediatric Pulmonology
Pediatrics Pediatrics


V. Honors and Awards

This physician has reported no awards.


VI. Professional Publications

This physician has reported no publications.


VII. Malpractice Information

Some studies have shown that there is no significant correlation between malpractice history and a doctor's competence. At the same time, the Board believes that consumers should have access to malpractice information. In these profiles, the Board has given you information about both the malpractice history of the physician's specialty and the physician's history of payments. The Board has placed payment amounts into three statistical categories: below average, average, and above average. To make the best health care decisions, you should view this information in perspective. You could miss an opportunity for high quality care by selecting a doctor based solely on malpractice history.
When considering malpractice data, please keep in mind:

Malpractice histories tend to vary by specialty. Some specialties are more likely than others to be the subject of litigation. This report compares doctors only to the members of their specialty, not to all doctors, in order to make individual doctor's history more meaningful.
This report reflects data for the last 10 years of a doctor's practice. For doctors practicing less than 10 years, the data covers their total years of practice. You should take into account how long the doctor has been in practice when considering malpractice averages.
The incident causing the malpractice claim may have happened years before a payment is finally made. Sometimes, it takes a long time for a malpractice lawsuit to move through the legal system.
Some doctors work primarily with high risk patients. These doctors may have malpractice histories that are higher than average because they specialize in cases or patients who are at very high risk for problems.
Settlement of a claim may occur for a variety of reasons which do not necessarily reflect negatively on the professional competence or conduct of the physician. A payment in settlement of a medical malpractice action or claim should not be construed as creating a presumption that medical malpractice has occurred.
You may wish to discuss information provided in this report, and malpractice generally, with your doctor. The Board can refer you to other articles on this subject.

Dr's Specialty: Pediatrics
Number of MA Physicians
Licensed in this Specialty: 2847
Number Who Made
Malpractice Payments in the
Last Ten Years: 63 (2.2 %)
Number of Payments for this Doctor: 2
Payment Details for this Doctor: Date Category of Payment
5/30/2007 Above Average
1/30/2008 Average


VIII. Disciplinary and/or Criminal Actions

Criminal Convictions, Pleas and Admissions:
The information in this section may not be comprehensive. The courts are now required by law to supply this information to the Board.

Dr. Lindeman has had no criminal convictions in the past ten years.

Hospital Discipline:
This section contains several categories of disciplinary actions taken by Massachusetts hospitals during the past ten years which are specifically required by law to be released in the physician's profile.

Dr. Lindeman has no record of hospital discipline in the past ten years.

Board Discipline:
This section includes final disciplinary actions taken by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine during the past ten years.

Dr. Lindeman has not been disciplined by the Board in the past ten years.