Prevention of medical malpractice has become a leading concern
for the legal and medical community in Oklahoma City following a
host of court decisions involving malpractice.
Doctors from across Oklahoma, attorneys and judges will examine
ethical and legal issues of heart disease in an evening seminar on
Monday at the Marriott Hotel in Oklahoma City.
"To my knowledge this is the first seminar of its kind in the
nation to specifically address cardiology," said Dr. Sandy Sanbar,
Oklahoma City cardiologist and internist and president of American
College of Legal Medicine, a professional organization.
The seminar is being sponsored by the college and Baptist
Medical Center, and has been approved by Physicians Liability
Insurance Co. and the Oklahoma State Medical Association.
"There are legal implications for every decision a doctor makes
whether dealing with a terminally-ill patient or deciding when an
organ can be harvested for transplant," Sanbar said.
"It is more important than ever before that physicians learn to
protect themselves while caring for their patients," Sanbar said.
A number of landmark court decisions in Oklahoma have
dramatically increased the risk of malpractice suits against
physicians, forcing doctors to take preventative measures. Sanbar
said one decision rendered by the Oklahoma Supreme Court last year
eliminated limits to the amount of compensatory damages allowed in
many malpractice cases. In the decision, Sanbar said the state's
high court struck down a 1976 statute of limitation that limited
cause of action for medical-related suits to recovery of medical
costs in cases filed more than three years after the medical problem
Another decision in the July 1987 McKellips case changed the
Doctrine of Loss of a Chance of Recovery or Survival by allowing a
party to sue for malpractice, even when there is a less than 50
percent chance of a patient's survival, Sanbar said. Prior to the
McKellips case, the plaintiff could only sue if a patient's chances
for survival was greater than 50 percent.
The suit involved Reverend Allan David McKellips, who was rushed
to the emergency room at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa suffering
from chest pain. A doctor diagnosed his condition as gastritis and
sent him home. Two hours later he suffered a heart attack and died
In this landmark case, McKellips wife recovered more than $1
million in punitive damages, Sanbar said. She held that her
husband's chances of survival would have been significantly improved
if the patient were properly treated.
At the seminar, past president of the American Heart Association
Dr.Robert A. Kloner will head a distinguished panel in a discussion
of actual malpractice cases involving physicians. …