Discovery vs. Discussion

Recently, a listserv that I belong to in which ophthalmologists communicate had a discussion. The discussion had to with a posting in which someone was having undesirable outcomes, and the other doctors were trying to give advice about what to do regarding those outcomes. One of the topics that came up was that all of the information in the listserv is potentially legally discoverable, and that created some trepidation about the postings. Should we discuss these bad outcomes openly if it can be traced back to the user? Certainly everybody is going to have some bad outcomes occasionally, and the best thing that a doctor can do when something like that is happening is seek advice and try to fix the problem. However, it is definitely very scary to the doctor to know that the comments in the listserv could be used in malpractice litigation. I feel that the value of us all learning from each other’s experiences trumps any potential legal fears. Also, I note that, just because some outcome was not ideal does not mean that the doctor didn’t do exactly what needed to be done. Perhaps it is easy for me to say since I was not the one with the undesirable outcome, but thankfully, I think that we all came to a similar conclusion on the listserv.

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