McAllen Hosts Author for Instructions on Avoiding Medical Lawsuits
By Brenda Garza
On September 30, the Cooper Wellness Center in McAllen hosted Jose Luis Hinojosa, an established, locally-practicing doctor and author of a Physician’s Guide to Avoiding Lawsuits as he conducted a book reading and signing for the tell-all personal memoir, Fighting to Heal – The Story of Dr. Pepe (his 14th book). He also talked about the Physician’s Guide, which is not exhaustive nor expansive; it is a mere 124 pages that specify numerous safeguards a medical professional can take to maximize their potential for avoiding lawsuits. This is a subject of great interest to the healthcare providers of the Rio Grande Valley who are eager to serve their community and avoid unnecessary litigation. Before starting the book signing, Dr. Hinojosa read from the dedication section:
“I dedicate this book to all the healthcare providers out there in the trenches, in the battlefield of medical care, where lawsuits come flying at you like grenades, exploding and taking innocent souls down.” Then he started telling the story of how he became one of the more than 17,000 medical-malpractice claims filed every year.
In 1996, Dr. Hinojosa was a family physician attending an overweight patient who had come to his office requesting diet pills. He said that as a doctor he would not prescribe such pills due to the potential side effects.
“They kept insisting. And at one point, my guard was down and I said, ‘Well, we need two things before we start your treatment, if we are going to start it – an echocardiogram, or an ultrasound of the heart; this checks the status of the heart valves. And two, you are going to need blood work to check the status of your liver to make sure that everything is OK.”
After undergoing the exams, the patient passed the tests and Dr. Hinojosa prescribed them diet pills for a couple of months. As planned, the patient lost weight to their satisfaction and Dr. Hinojosa stopped the treatment – and then they stopped coming to the clinic.
“They got lost in the shuffle. Maybe they went to a different clinic,” Hinojosa continued. “Patients, sometimes you just lose them for no good reason.”
Years later, Hinojosa was presented with a lawsuit. The patient was suing him for heart valve damage that they claimed was due to their prescribed diet pill.
“You’re stressed. You lose sleep,” said the doctor about being involved with a legal case.
Almost two years later, the class-action lawsuit was dropped after it was discovered that the patient didn’t have any type of complications to their heart valves. However, the good news did not make up for his ordeal.
“I lost time from my clinic and seeing my patients. You lose revenues. You lose valuable time with your loved ones. It’s a big, big stressor.”
He’s not alone, according to cbsnews.com; the primary career being sued for malpractice was Obstetricians/Gynecologists, leading by 85 percent. It was then followed by surgeons (83 percent), Orthopedists (79 percent), Radiologists (72 percent), Anesthesiologists (58 percent), Internal/family medicine practitioners (46 percent), and Oncologists (34 percent).
“It’s not will you get sued,” the doctor says. “It’s when will you get sued?”
Hinojosa’s 14 books, including Physicians’ Guide to Avoiding Lawsuits, can be found on www.booksbydrhinojosa.com and on Amazon.
Hinojosa was born in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico and brought to the United States at the age of seven. He attended Brown University as a pre-med student and received his medical degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in 1985. Dr. Hinojosa completed his residency training at the South Texas Family Practice Residency Program in McAllen. Since then he has added other titles to his name, including MHA (Master of Health Administration) and CIME (Certified Independent Medical Examiner) – and award winning author of motivating, educational and inspiring books. Aside from a passion for helping others through medicine, Hinojosa describes his interests in theater, photography, dance, and has also obtained his 8th degree Black Belt in Taekwondo. After becoming a multiple World Champion and Hall of Famer in Taekwondo, he was awarded the position of team doctor for the United States Taekwondo Union’s National Team from 1993-1998.