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“I know. I don’t want this to happen. But you need to understand. While this was going on and days were passing and I was in so much pain…” He cringed with the memory. “I own a .44 Magnum and I took it out and put it up to my mouth several times.” He said this slowly, looking me in the eye with his left thumb up and left index finger directed between his lips. “Because I would have done anything to end the pain.”

Someone had to pay for the pain, even if it had to be the innocent dentist and me. I assumed at that point that his attorneys had told him they would not accept his case unless I were included, so I shook his hand, thanked him for the “heads up,” and notified Marc, our practice administrator.

He said, “Jim, you need to sit down right now and write down everything that you can remember of what happened and what he said to you.” I knew this already and that I would be submitting this to our malpractice carrier to prepare for what might come, so I sat down at the computer and did as I was told.

“I’m fried!” was Carol’s reaction. “How can he possibly do that?”

My boss likes to remind me that no good deed goes unpunished, but this seemed over the top to me. In the end, Stephan reached the same conclusion. One month later, at the end of his follow-up appointment, he declared, “I decided not to go ahead with the suit. It was not anyone’s fault, and everyone here has been nothing but good to me.” — Jim Eichel

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towelheadedcameljockey June 13, 2008 @ 3:46 p.m.

It's good to hear he decided not to follow through with the suit. People always want to put blame on someone for things which are not necessarily human error.


creativemnds July 22, 2009 @ 3:22 p.m.

People never really get to see the physician's side of story. Thanks for the insight! :)


SDaniels July 22, 2009 @ 3:41 p.m.

Thank you, Dr. Eichel, and I will be sure to read your other blogs! I am looking for books written from a doctor's point of view; just finished Paul Austin's "Something for the Pain" about life in the ER, but would like to read a physician-authored book or two more focused on the actual medical practice, rather than the doctor's personal life (in Austin, an ER doc, it is understandably all about finding ways to sleep).

As a patient with a serious lifelong condition, I am constantly If you have any recommendations, I'd much appreciate it.


SDaniels July 22, 2009 @ 3:44 p.m.

Oops. Meant to say that I am constantly and of necessity finding myself navigating the healthcare system, and it would be enlightening to read about doctors' thoughts about sending patients to the ER, pain management, and the evolution of one's bedside manner, as well as all aspects of one's daily practice.


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