It had to happen sooner or later. Lawyer Dobbins was wheeled into the
emergency room on a stretcher, rolling his head in agony. Doctor Green
came over to see him.
"Dobbins," he said, "What an honor. The last time I saw you was in
court when you accused me of malpractice."
"Doc. Doc. My side is on fire. The pain is right here. What could
"How would I know? You told the jury I wasn't fit to be a doctor."
"I was only kidding, Doc. When you represent a client you don't
know what you're saying. Could I be passing a kidney stone?"
"Your diagnosis is as good as mine."
"What are you talking about?"
"When you questioned me on the stand you indicated you knew
everything there was to know about the practice of medicine."
"Doc, I'm climbing the wall. Give me something."
"Let's say I give you something for a kidney stone and it turns
out to be a gallstone. Who is going to pay for my court costs?"
"I'll sign a paper that I won't sue."
"Can I read to you from the transcript of the trial? Lawyer
Dobbins: 'Why were you so sure that my client had tennis elbow?' Dr.
Green: 'I've treated hundreds of people with tennis elbow and I know it
when I see it.' Dobbins: 'It never occurred to you my client could have an
Excedrin headache?' Green: 'No, there were no signs of an Excedrin
headache.' Dobbins: 'You and your ilk make me sick.' "
"Why are you reading that to me?"
"Because, Dobbins, since the trial I've lost confidence in making
a diagnosis. A lady cane in the other day limping ..."
"Please, Doc, I don't want to hear it now. Give me some Demerol."
"You said during the suit that I dispensed drugs like a drunken
sailor. I've changed my ways, Dobbins. I don't prescribe drugs anymore."
"Then get me another doctor."
"There are no other doctors on duty. The reason I'm here is that
after the malpractice suit the sheriff seized everything in my office.
This is the only place that I can practice."
"If you give me something to relieve the pain I will personally
appeal your case to a higher court."
"You know, Dobbins, I was sure that you were a prime candidate for
a kidney stone."
"You can't tell a man is a candidate for a kidney stone just by
looking at him."
"That's what you think, Dobbins. You had so much acid in you when
you addressed the jury I knew some of it eventually had to crystallize
into stones. Remember on the third day day when you called me the 'Butcher
of Operating Room 6'? That afternoon I said to my wife, "That man is going
to be in a lot of pain.' "
"Okay, Doc, you've had your ounce of flesh. Can I now have my
ounce of Demerol?"
"I better check you out first."
"Don't check me out, just give the dope."
"But in court the first question you asked me was if I had
examined the patient completely. It would be negligent of me if I didn't
do it now. Do you mind getting up on the scale?"
"To find out your height. I have to be prepared in case I get sued
and the lawyer asks me if I knew how tall you were."
"I'm not going to sue you."
"You say that now. But how can I be sure you won't file a writ
after you pass the kidney stone?"
>From: American Medical News, p.4, July 18, 1986
(reprinted in AMN with permission of the author, LA Times Syndicate, 1986)