Wednesday, March 31, 2010


A few years ago Jo Anne had surgery on both of her feet. The first couple of days she experienced severe pain and I told her she was a bit wimpy, and that I would have been able to endure the same procedure without even any anesthesia. Well, given the circumstances she didn't respond very well to my paralyzed humor. She recovered quite quickly thankfully, but for a few days she had to roll around in a wheelchair and we looked like a very interesting couple to say the least.

She actually had the same surgery about 10 years before this latest and new procedure, but the doctor didn't do it correctly and so she had to have it redone. Fortunately for the public with feet problems this doctor quit the medical profession, under some duress I believe. His former partner however, agreed to do the new surgery at no charge and it seems as though he did as good a job as he possibly could given the circumstances. You don't find that kind of a person around much anymore.

Don't you just love people who have paid the price to gain knowledge and training in their special fields and then who have the integrity to do it "... with [their] might....?" I suspect if we were suing kinds of people, we could have sued the first foot doctor for malpractice.
A couple of days before the surgery, we drove out to Riverside County to watch our son, Mike, give his opening argument in a death penalty, serial killing case. Mike was a deputy district attorney at the time. This case involved a particularly heinous crime committed by two extremely evil and wicked individuals. Mike had been preparing for this trial for several years. Although he is our son and we are very prejudiced, he did a masterful job in a 2 1/2 hour opening statement to put the case in proper perspective in the eyes of the jury. He seldom glanced at any notes and everyone in the courtroom was riveted on every word he spoke. We went back two days later and observed him skillfully question witness after witness as he began to build his case. I was very impressed with his intense preparation and desire to see justice done for the victim -- a young 14-year-old girl -- and her family and young friends. The young friends who, at the time of the trial, were now in their late teens and early twenties were absolutely overwhelmed that anybody would care enough about this one, little, seemingly insignificant girl, to invest so much time and effort into bringing her murderers to justice. The trial went on for over six months. The jury finally came back with a death penalty verdict which was unprecedented because one of the serial killers was a young woman. Based on what I observed in that courtroom, I don't think Mike could ever be accused of malpractice. If so, it wouldn't ever be because of a lack of effort on his part, as he works with all his "might" to see justice done.

The contrast between the first foot doctor, the second foot doctor, and Mike has caused me to reflect on the fact that almost anybody in any walk of life is susceptible of being guilty of malpractice. I believe malpractice is more a question of motive than knowledge and training most of the time. A respiratory therapist, a caregiver, (I am especially concerned that these vital people in my life are never guilty of malpractice) a painter, a wallpaper hanger, a carpenter, an auto mechanic, a wedding coordinator and caterer, and even spouses and parents, etc., could all be guilty of malpractice if they don't do with all their "might" what they have promised and are supposed to be doing.

What about teachers? I am quite sensitive about this, having been a teacher for most of my life. I still am always asking myself if I have prepared sufficiently and pondered deeply and long enough to teach an adequate lesson regarding significant gospel topics. I hope I am never guilty of malpractice because of a lack of preparation or effort and that I could only be blamed for stupidity. I am sure there have been a few students over the years that perhaps would have been justified in suing me for malpractice. I have always tried hard ;however, to never be guilty, as a teacher, of slaying my students, as Samson did the Philistines. "And Samson said, With the jawbone of an ass...have I slain a thousand men." [Judges 15:16]

I suspect the quotation from Ecclesiastes at the top of this Observation cuts across every aspect of our lives --"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might..." [Ecclesiastes 9:10]

In our professions, as students, in our church callings, as spouses and parents, and citizens of this great nation, we must never be so negligent and sloppy in what we do that we could ever be rightfully sued for malpractice.

Perhaps an important thought in all of this was given by the transcendentalist author (1817-1862) Henry David Thoreau: "Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it."



Blog Buddy said...

Thank you for telling us more about your family! I live down here in Southern Utah...and have to check your posts on a regular basis (to get my daily dose of humor:) This more serious discussion, was just as entertaining though! *I love to read about true-crime also...

~Dilworths~ said...

This is an excellent topic for anyone to ponder, as we all need to strive to better ourselves in one form or another. I like how you phrased, "I believe malpractice is more a question of motive than knowledge and training most of the time." I'd hate to sit in on some of the Y.W. lessons I've taught in the past, but as tragic as those lessons may have been, my intentions were good--and all I can ask of myself is to continue to progress.
I hope JoAnne's feet don't still bother her. How wonderful that the partner agreed to the 2nd surgery at no charge. He was a very rare find indeed.

Cam said...

The scripture found in Ecclesiastes 9:10 reminds me of the admonition President McKay encountered while on his mission to Scotland: "Whate'er thou art act well thy part." I liked the talk Sharon Samuelson gave on the subject earlier this year.