She did however get what she came for, and here it was: her editor, Galina Espinoza, who was not at the meeting, ended up on Dr. Phil (presenting herself as if she had been in a conversation with me) and offered that what she found “astounding” was how I blamed my patients for malpractice suits; how somehow, I wasn’t taking responsibility for my predicament.
Yet, Ms. Espinoza is a media whore just like Harvey. I called her in New York to offer information, documented facts, which demonstrated that the stories being told were inaccurate. Her response: “No one cares, Donda West is dead. It’s not a story that we or our readers are going to care about any more”.
That was an epiphany for me, because that was confirmation that it really didn’t matter at all what the facts were to these people; they were going to tell the story their way and when done they were simply going to move on regardless of the devastation left behind. All she wanted was to sell magazines. This woman was more callous than the lawyers. She had compassion for no one, not even the victim, Donda West.)
What I had said was that “suits are a little crazy. We have all seen bad plastic surgery out there. The problem is beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The patient makes the decision to sue or not; it depends on where their head is at the time, not on the surgery or the results. Some people go literally crazy over a scar and others recognize the scar as the cost of having skin removed. (I once had a patient complain, in front of her husband, that “her breast augmentation looked too real”; she wanted them big, sitting high, and looking fake. I ended-up re-doing them.)
So, unfortunately, you don’t need negligence to get a suit.You just need a patient willing to go there.” Fairly innocent and straight forward I thought, but their take was to make it look as if I was blaming the patient for the result or at the very least the suit. I was simply saying it’s a decision the patient makes. No doctor sues himself.
The fact that People Magazine, Dr Phil, and other organizations joined in the “electronic lynching” with TMZ is scary; it speaks to mob rule and a wolf-pack mentality. What happened next challenged me to my core. Though not easy for me, I could shrug off the press because I knew they were all wrong. It, however, was not easy to sit back and watch the people I loved being hurt by what the press was saying .And what they were saying was mean. I say that because the press knew they were operating in a climate where, as a doctor, you couldn’t defend yourself. I said that point blank to Amy Keith. They all knew that any discussion of the facts would ultimately lead to a discussion of Donda West, (and I couldn’t go there), but they didn’t care. They all simply were trying to draw a line in the sand and have me step over it. It, their ill-informed meanness, was simply a dare, much in the way a bully makes a dare on the playground. It was also a disservice to Donda West.
My answering service was receiving a hundred calls an hour, and the mailbox on my cell phone was filling up faster than I could answer it. I finally resolved that the only thing to do was shut it off and let the process run its course.
The problem was it refused to burn out. I finally posed this question to Amy Keith: If it’s against the law for the doctor to violate doctor-patient privilege, isn’t it against the law for a reporter to ask him to do that? Is not asking a doctor to break a law conspiracy to commit a crime? She simply shrugged that off too. Her response, “I had to try”.
But here is what she didn’t try: she didn’t try to have an independent thought. She tried to get me to talk to her about Donda West (in order to place a feather in her cap at my expense) and her “come on” was “verification” and the fact that “both her parents were doctors”(as if I gave a shit). As if her parents being doctors was going to make it okay to violate physician-patient privilege.
“If both her parents are doctors” I thought, “ then clearly she had shared with them that she had gotten this interview, then surely she knew from them that doctors are forbidden by law to discuss the particulars of someone’s case”.
What I hated was that this woman had listened to the 911 tape a number of times and hadn’t arrived at the question any idiot would have asked themselves: Who’s in charge over there? And, where is the person taking care of Donda West? What the tape of the “911 Call” demonstrated was that absolutely no one there at the time had a clue as to what was going on. So you’d think Ms. Keith would have first asked why? Why are things so chaotic? Who’s in charge over there? Why wasn’t her nephew, an experienced nurse with an advanced degree, with his aunt? Why are these women, with no medical training, home alone with this lady so soon after surgery? And, if there is someone who is supposed to be with her, why isn’t this person under scrutiny?