This case deals with medical malpractice in which both the plaintiff and the defendant were doctors. The suit was brought by Dr. David Axelrad, a psychiatrist, the patient, against Dr. Richard Jackson, an internist, the attending physician. After months of intermittent abdominal cramps and diarrhea, Dr. Axelrad sought treatment from Dr. Jackson because the pains became more acute. Dr. Jackson prescribed a laxative and an enema for fecal impaction. Returning home, Axelrad followed his doctor’s orders and immediately felt severe abdominal pain with nausea and chills. His wife took him to an emergency room, and he was hospitalized for further testing. Based on those tests, another doctor operated two days later for what was thought to be appendicitis but turned out to be diverticulitis and a perforated colon.
A portion of the colon was removed and a temporary colostomy constructed. Axelrad subsequently had further surgery to reconnect the colon, which became complicated by a severe drug reaction. During the court trial, several facts came up that made it sound as if both doctor and patient were at fault. While conceding a patient with diverticulitis should not be treated with enemas, Dr. Jackson testified he did not suspect diverticulitis as it is normally associated with fever, constipation, and pain in the left lower quadrant, while Axelrad had reported no fever, diarrhea, or pain throughout his abdomen. During the trial, accusations of negligence went back and forth between the two doctors who asserted how each had been negligent. It was hard for the jury not to believe both since each could legally be considered an expert.
A critical fact that came before the jury at the original trial was that both the plaintiff and defendant, as doctors, failed to reveal information that was significant to the medical malpractice case brought by Dr. Axelrad, How do you think the case was decided?