Disrespect And Assault In The Operating Room: Our Nightmares Are Real


“A few moments later, the anesthesiologist walks in the room and asks, ‘What do you got?’ Dr. Canby says, ‘Vaginal delivery. Uterine atony. External massage failed. Give her some ketamine.’”…I look at Mrs. Lopez—her eyes are half-closed and vacant. Dr. Canby instructs me to hold her knee. A fellow medical student holds her other knee….Canby then performs an internal bimanual uterine massage. He places his left hand inside her vagina, makes a fist, and presses it against her uterus. I look down and see only his wrist; his entire hand is inside her. Canby puts his right hand on her abdomen and then massages her uterus between his hands. After a few minutes, he feels the uterus contract and harden. He says something like, ‘Atta girl. That’s what I like. A nice, tight uterus.’ And the bleeding stops. The guy saved her life…But then something happened that I’ll never forget. Dr. Canby raises his right hand into the air. He starts to sing ‘La Cucaracha.’ He sings, ‘La Cucaracha, la cucaracha, dada, dada, dada-daaa.’ It looks like he is dancing with her. He stomps his feet, twists his body, and waves his right arm above his head. All the while, he holds her, his whole hand still inside her vagina. He starts laughing. He keeps dancing. And then he looks at me. I begin to sway to his beat. My feet shuffle. I hum and laugh along with him. Moments later, the anesthesiologist yells, ‘Knock it off, assholes!’ And we stop.”

This is an operating room anecdote related in an anonymously authored article published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine, a respected medical journal. The publication says that the piece is intended to shine light in a dark corner of the medical profession. Oh-oh. The essay is anonymous, I assume, because the author is afraid that there would be professional repercussions from his revealing this—what? Bad habit? Dirty secret? Crime? Reason for us to go stark, raving mad? Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “What’s Going On Here?” Ten Ethics Observations On The Miami Beach Police Force Racist E-mails”


Nothing makes me consider  shouting praise to the skies like the situation I just experienced. I find myself in a hotel, away from home, waking up feeling sick, having to prepare for a two hour ethics lecture to young lawyers and knowing that writing a new Ethics Alarms post will either make me frantic or result in a product even more riddled with typos than usual. And there it is! A worthy Comment of the Day, allowing me to present high quality ethics content that I don’t have to write myself, giving me time to work, get back home and think. (Unless I die first, because boy, do I feel lousy.)

The perfectly-timed COTD in question is by the commenter formerly known as  Penn, and involves a topic that I am speaking about this morning, e-mail. I don’t even mind that he doesn’t agree with the statements that sparked his comment: that police should be required under threat of dismissal to report racist -mails from colleagues, and that workplace e-mails have to be monitored by responsible supervisors. Here is SamePenn’s Comment of the Day on the post, “What’s Going On Here? Ten Ethics Observations On The Miami Beach Police Force Racist E-mails.”

And thank you, thank you, thank you! Continue reading

The Plagiarist Strikes Back!

Move along, Atticus. Nothing to see here, and I wouldn't want you to barf.

Well, some of you called it. I was a sap. I expected better.

Mary Frances Prevost, the California criminal law attorney who substantially expropriated an Ethics Alarms post and placed her name on it, responded to my request for an explanation, and failing that, an apology, a retraction, and proper credit, with this (on her Facebook page), in which she said, in part:

“I received a histrionic run-on-sentence email from someone named “Jack Marshall” today accusing me of committing crimes, threatening to report me to my bar association(s), the Inns of Court, and essentially spend your days and nights harassing me.” I have also viewed a a highly unethical rant published purportedly by you on a blog suggesting strongly that I have engaged in unethical conduct throughout the entire course of my career. I have counseled with one of the country’s premiere ethics attorneys. Here’s the result: 1) accusing me of a crime is defamation per se and unethical; 2) suggesting that my entire law practice has been based on unethical conduct is defamatory and unethical. I maintained copies both of your email and blog. It is clear that you are hell bent on engaging in systematic harassment and unethical conduct, the likes of which can, and most likely will, develop into a lawsuit unless rescinded forthwith. It is clear you have little to do in your life besides sent me emails accusing me of crimes, and writing poorly written blog posts accusing me of immoral behavior. Interesting how one making such claims, engages in most egregious conduct himself….But the sheer amount of energy really suggests something more: a lack of work; too much time; off your meds. I suggest you take a look inward and remove your defamatory and unethical blog post regarding me. Indeed, you should come clean on your blog. You’ve practiced law only two weeks before giving up. Yet, your resume suggests far more experience. I think you should rethink what you’ve done.”

Now how do you like that? Continue reading

Is a Plagiarist a Trustworthy Attorney? Let’s Ask Mary Frances Prevost!

This is me, apparently.

San Diego criminal defense attorney Mary Frances Prevost has an interesting post on her blog about the ethics of George Zimmerman’s first set of attorneys.


You wouldn’t know it was mine, of course, because blogger/attorney/ former Washington Post journalist Prevost has slapped her own name on it. There it is, right at the beginning: “by Mary Francis Prevost.” I think that’s interesting.

Her post, entitled “The Trayvon Martin Case Trainwreck: George Zimmerman’s Attorneys Need To Shut Up!”, was posted the same day as the Ethics Alarms post, “Next To Board The Trayvon Martin Ethics Train Wreck? Why, The Lawyers, Of Course!”, which began, coincidentally enough, by quoting John Steel’s post from the Legal Ethics Forum that read, “[S]hut up, guys. Shut the h*** up.”  It was two introductory paragraphs later, however, when “her” post got into the substance of “her” analysis of the ethical problems with the farewell press conference given by George Zimmerman’s attorneys shortly before the shooter of Trayvon Martin was charged, however, that I really began getting a serious dose of deja vu, also known as “Holy crap! This woman stole my article!” Continue reading

Doctors and the Deadly Anti-Snitch Reflex

Everybody, or almost everybody, hates to report friends and colleagues for misconduct. This is the anti-snitch reflex, a strongly programmed response from childhood. Telling authorities about the misconduct of others sets off internal alarms that have been installed by parents and peer groups, ensuring that we feel terrible if we “tattletale.” This is betrayal, a violation of loyalty, and most of all, a breach of the Golden Rule: we’d never want anyone to snitch on us.

For professionals, however, this reflex is false, mistaken and even deadly. The duty to report dishonest public employees, crooked cops, unethical lawyers, conflicted accountants, self-dealing business executives, fraudulent researchers and others in the workplace—even if they are colleagues and friends—trumps childhood codes, personal loyalty and general discomfort. There is nothing noble or admirable about allowing innocent people to entrust their life and livelihood with untrustworthy professionals. Nevertheless, a disturbing large proportion of all professionals can’t bring themselves to do the right thing when it comes to the core ethical duty of stopping workplace dishonesty, incompetence or corruption when it involves a colleague.

A recent survey of doctors is not comforting, but it confirms the problem. Continue reading