Simulated Lawsuit Teaches Emergency Medicine Residents How Med/Mal Works


Adam Shlahet ’02, director of the Brendan Moore Trial Advocacy Center, collaborated with Mark Curato, DO, the assistant director of the EM residency program at St. Barnabas Hospital in Bronx, NY, to bring a medical malpractice litigation practicum to a group of eight residents to help them understand how malpractice litigation works.

The case involves a man in his 60s who goes to the emergency department (ED) complaining of chest pain. Emergency physicians (EPs) perform several tests, including an ECG that could be interpreted in different ways. The patient is sent home with a diagnosis of anxiety and panic attack. The following morning, the patient dies of a heart attack in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.

The EM residents always start off wanting to explain what really happened to clear their names. “But telling their side of the story is really not the goal of the deposition,” Shlahet explains.

Law students convey the importance of giving honest, accurate answers while not offering any additional information. They also train defendants to pause to think about questions before responding. “That’s something that’s counterintuitive, and that requires real practice,” Shlahet says.

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