On the internet, somebody knows you’re a doc

My current project involves working with statutes and with case law. One of my project partners has built a learning assignment around a court case. Eric Turkewitz has the details (as do many others, including the Boston Globe), but this is the quick summary:

Useful medical toolDr. Robert Lindeman was defending against a malpractice suit in 2007. While Lindeman was on the stand, the plaintiff’s attorney asked if he had a medical blog. He said he did. She asked if he was Flea (posting on the now-vanished drfleablog). He said yes.

The case was settled the following day.

Flea, it turns out, had been blogging before the trial began. He discussed meeting with “an expert on juries” for advice on how to behave on the stand. He also blogged during the trial, commenting on the judge, the sleepy jurors and the appearance of the plaintiff’s attorney.

Not always as useful a toolIronically, in a PDF that claims to have been made of Flea’s site before it was taken down, Flea reports his lawyer suggesting that the opposing side “may pull articles from Flea’s ‘legitimate’ web site to use against him.”

This apparently did not cause Lindeman to tell his attorney, “You know, I have a blog, too.”

I don’t know anything about the merits of the court case. I do know that a client needs to help his attorney anticipate potential difficulties. And that blogging, while free, can have costs.

Stethoscope photo by happysnappr / Adrian Clark.
Megaphone photo by LarimdaME / Gene Han.

2 thoughts on “On the internet, somebody knows you’re a doc

  1. Interesting… We leave our digital footprints all over the Net. And deleting a blog or a post is not going to be enough. How will one delete all the cached versions, the RSS feeds and the email subscriptions!!!

    You can run but you can’t hide in this digital world.

  2. Manish, in context, the problem with drfleablog (and the reason it’s good for the course I’m working on) is that by discussing on his blog the strategizing he did with his attorney and with the “jury expert,” the doctor could well have been waiving his right to attorney/client privilege.

    No one outside of the case knows why they settled out of court — but since the case had begun, I don’t think it’s wrong to assume he originally felt he had a reasonable chance of prevailing. And that he changed his mind.

    It’s easy to make humorous, snarky, or sarcastic comments on a blog — I might even do that myself someday. You’re by yourself, the ordinary social inhibitions are lessened, and anyway, it’s the blogosphere.

    I’m not saying “never say what’s on your mind.” But if you converse in public, you have to recall from time to time that someone might be listening.

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