Being The Best Advocate For Our Clients. . .
And Ourselves!

September 23, 2019

By Elizabeth Kaveny, Managing Partner, Kaveny + Kroll

In speaking as an invited lecturer at a conference of laparoscopic gynecologists, I explained, “the best way to keep your patients out of my office is to spend more time with them in yours!” If something goes wrong, patients want and deserve an explanation. If you won’t spend the time to work with them, I will. “Don’t complain then that my understanding is wrong; you had your chance to help your patient and do the right thing. You didn’t; so I did.”

As a Trial Attorney who specializes in the area of Medical Malpractice, this has been and always will be, my guiding principle in working with those who have been victimized by the negligence and neglect of others.

So often, these incidences are not only the result of the absence of the standard of care but that of an overall lack of empathy, whether it be a lack of patience with their patients or far more egregious demonstrations of a lack of respect for the human beings in their care.

Recent studies in the Journal of American Medicine (JAMA) found that patients of surgeons who exhibit unprofessional behavior, are more likely to have complications within 30 days of being under the knife.

The study reports that “surgeons who model unprofessional behaviors may help to undermine a culture of safety, threaten teamwork, and thereby increase risk for medical errors and surgical complications.” The study cited 13,653 patients from 202 surgeons and questioned the surgeon’s colleagues to find reports of four types of unprofessional behavior: unclear or disrespectful communication, poor or unsafe care, lack of integrity and failure to follow through on professional responsibilities.

And, as we all know, surgeons, while often being the best ‘known’ for their overdose of arrogance are not the only ones in the medical field that can display these tendencies.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As women, we face a 1 in 8 chance of developing Breast Cancer during our lives. We recommend and hopefully practice vigilance in keeping up with our own healthcare including regular mammograms and doctor’s visits. Yet, as women, whether through routine care, childbearing or more serious circumstances such as Breast Cancer, we are often ‘at the mercy’ of our medical staff.

We need to remain equally vigilant in assuring that we, and those that we love, are treated with respect and empathy, regardless of the circumstances. That can be a tremendous part of our personal and professional responsibility to assure better care for all; physically and psychologically.

Elizabeth Kaveny is the Managing Partner of Kaveny + Kroll Trial Lawyers in Chicago. Kaveny + Kroll specialize in medical practice, personal injury, mass transportation and premise liability.