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Lights, Camera, Malpractice

By Jock Hoffman, CRICO

Related to: Ambulatory, Emergency Medicine, Primary Care, Nursing, Obstetrics, Other Specialties, Surgery

Normally, patient safety and popcorn don’t mix, but summer is time for an occasional diversion. What better way to escape the day-to-day drama of the workplace than to jangle some Jiffy Pop on the stove top and then settle down in front of a classic movie about…well, the workplace. Here are 10 cinematic suggestions that portray the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of health care.

Frankenstein/Young Frankenstein (1931, 1971)
Research lab/transplant service demonstrates poor judgment, supervision, and patient monitoring.

Green for Danger (1946)
When a postman dies on a hospital operating table in this World War II film starring Trevor Howard, was it accidental?

Last Holiday (1950, with Alec Guiness;
remade in 2006, with Queen Latifah
A patient (wrongly) diagnosed with a terminal condition splurges on an extravagant vacation. It’s more about life, death, and luck than about medical error.

The Hospital (1971)
A Manhattan teaching hospital is falling apart, and that’s just one of the problems Chief of Medicine, Dr. Herbert Bock (George C. Scott), is dealing with.

The Verdict (1982)
When down-trodden attorney Frank Galvin (Paul Newman) takes on a medical malpractice case against a thinly veiled Massachusetts hospital, he employs a bit of legal malpractice along the way. Based on the novel by Barry Reed—who purportedly fashioned the story from actual malpractice cases—The Verdict feels more authentic than most Hollywood medical or courtroom dramas.

Regarding Henry (1991)
Harrison Ford is a rather unlovable malpractice defense attorney whose life is turned upside down after he suffers a gunshot to the head.

The Doctor (1991)
When a physician (William Hurt) with a less than empathetic bedside manner is diagnosed with cancer, he gets to see his hospital from a new perspective, and becomes an enthusiastic advocate for patient-centered care. Based on Edward Rosenbaum’s book, A Taste of My Own Medicine.

The Fugitive (1993)
While on the run for a crime he didn’t commit, Dr. Richard Kimbel (Harrison Ford) visits a hospital where, in the midst of his search for the one-armed man, he changes the orders for a surgery patient who is not his (albeit, saving his life).

As Good As it Gets (1997)
Grumpy Jack Nicholson woos waitress Helen Hunt who fights her HMO to get coverage for her asthmatic son’s treatment.

Funny People (Opening July 31, 2009)
Stand-up comedian George Simmons (Adam Sandler) is told by his doctor that he has a year to live, but since this a comedy…

We hope you enjoy the shows (remember, your patients are watching, too). If you have some film favorites to share, let us know before the popcorn is all gone.

Additional Material

July 1, 2009
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