Posted: August 8, 2012

Why do people sue doctors? Get the full story from Dr. Stark at

In my career as a practicing Oncologist and medical-legal expert in malpractice litigation, on behalf of injured parties and defendants, I thought I understood why people sued their doctor.  I assumed they did so out of anger over a bad outcome.  Occasionally I would see a new patient in consultation whose cancer diagnosis had been delayed through physician error.  Sometimes the patient appreciated that a delay had occurred.  Less often he or she would ask me: “Should I sue the doctor who caused the delay?” When that happened I sensed, or perhaps inferred, anger from my patient.

When I started start writing about my litigation experience for these blogs it occurred to me that I might not really understand why patients sue, so I tried to find out.  I could have asked the patients involved in these lawsuits, but most of them are dead and I was reluctant to stir up emotions among the living.  Furthermore my contact in these cases was with the attorney, not the patient or his physician.  In fact, I carefully avoided dealing with either the patient or the doctor. My Oncology practice involved complex emotional issues, and I wished to avoid these in my consulting work.

So I started calling personal injury lawyers with whom I had worked.  I picked the most seasoned and capable of the many I had met.  I asked them all the same question: “why do injured parties see you in the first place?”  I was surprised by what I learned.

+ Read the entire story, and Dr. Stark’s statements on the BS757 Health Blog.