His widow sues. Five night-sweat-years later, our colleague wins in court, because he has good documentation.
POETRY OF THE TIMES
I’ve never been sued,
not even close-
no suicides or medication deaths,
only a threat, years ago, from a woman
I committed against her will. I know.
I’ve been lucky.
Last month, my malpractice carrier
sent me a “Case Study” to review-
a psychiatrist sees a patient once,
makes a solid suicide risk assessment,
and the patient goes home and ODs.
His widow sues. Five night-sweat-years
later our colleague wins in court.
Because he has good documentation.
And luck sped by this April
morning on my drive to work-
bright sun, snow pack thawing
when a school bus strains toward me
on the other side of the double yellow,
a head-phoned jogger on my side
between fog line and guard rail
when I hit glare ice. I kill
the reflex to slam on the brakes,
and my car glides through,
all of us lucky to be alive.
Which brings me to my office,
8:57 AM, first patient out the door
while I document how I prevented
another disaster, ten more patients
before sunset, fingers crossed
I will steer clear from danger,
that my luck will hold.
Dr Berlin is Instructor in Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA.