The Practice of Uncertainty: Voices of Physicians and Patients in Medical Malpractice Claims

By Stephen L. Fielding | Go to book overview

action to malpractice claims. Male physicians either intellectualized their anger or directed it at their patients. Female physicians spoke about how anger influenced them, as well as their patients' anger and life context. This pattern difference is the result of gender socialization where men are encouraged to express their own anger. Men are not taught to be as alert to others' emotional responses, and they are less likely to allow personal or social issues into their professional lives. Women, in contrast, are taught to be more sensitive to the feelings of others, and this may explain why female physicians are sued at lower rates than males.

In contrast, the stories told by male and female claimants contained marked differences. The men were very cryptic in telling their stories and reported little marginalization. Women, in contrast, provided much greater personal and social context in their stories. Women claimants were generally angrier than the males because they experienced more marginalization during their treatment and their injuries were more severe. Women experienced greater marginalization because they wanted more personal interaction than did the men; the interviews suggest that the women's physicians might have been less likely to treat them as equals. The stories of male and female claimants were also different because there was no one common socialization experience that acted to shape their lives.

In the next chapter, we will examine the views of some experts and their solutions to the "crisis" of medical malpractice claims.


NOTES
1.
Ruth L. Kirchstein, "Women Physicians--Good News and Bad News," New England Journal of Medicine 334, no. 15 ( 1996): 982-83.
2.
Stanley Milgram, "Behavioral Study of Obedience," Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 67, no. 4 ( 1963): 371-78.
3.
Philip G. Zimbardo, "Pathology of Imprisonment," Society 9 ( April 1972): 4-8.
4.
Edith B. Gross, "Gender Differences in Physician Stress," Journal of the American Women's Association 47, no. 4 ( 1992): 107-12.
5.
Steven C. Martin, Robert M. Arnold, and Ruth M. Parker, "Gender and Medical Socialization," Journal of Health and Social Behavior 29, no. 4 ( 1988): 333- 43.
6.
Texas State Board of Medical Examiners, Professional Liability Statistics for Physicians Practicing in Texas ( Austin, Texas, 1995); Mark I. Taragin, Adam P. Wilczek , M. Elizabeth Karns, Richard Trout, and Jeffrey L. Carson, "Physician Demographics and the Risk of Medical Malpractice," American Journal of medicine 93 (1992): 537; Frank A. Sloan, Paula M. Mergenhagen, W. Bradley Burfield, Randall R. Bovbjerg, and Mahmud Hassan, "Medical Malpractice Experience of Physicians: Predictable or Haphazard?" Journal of the American Medical Association 262 ( 1989): 3291.

-144-

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The Practice of Uncertainty: Voices of Physicians and Patients in Medical Malpractice Claims
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Preface and Acknowledgments xv
  • People Interviewed xvii
  • Notes xxiii
  • 1 - Historical and Social Background 1
  • 2 - Setting the Contemporary Stage 25
  • Notes 43
  • 3 - System Accidents 49
  • Notes 66
  • 4 - Uncertainty -- Which Diagnosis and Treatment? 69
  • Summary 81
  • 5 - We Were Going to Be Society's Heroes 83
  • Summary and Discussion 98
  • 6 - Am I the Same? 103
  • 7 - Gender and Telling the Story 123
  • Summary 144
  • 8 - The Defense of Wealth 147
  • Notes 168
  • 9 - Implications 171
  • Notes 196
  • Appendix - Theory and Method 199
  • Notes 208
  • Bibliography 211
  • Index 225
  • About the Author 231
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