It all began like so many other cases he had managed in his long career. The elderly patient had an incurable cancer, but required a minor surgical procedure to alleviate some troublesome symptoms. Everyone, including the patient, understood that the procedure was to be, at best, a palliative measure designed to make the patient's final few months a little more bearable. And he was a patient who remained as active as possible and who clung to life with all his might. He was blessed with a caring, loving family whose members were unanimous in requesting that the procedure be done. The tumor board recommended it. It was to be routine.
The surgeon took on the case as a favor to a colleague. He certainly did not need the work. At 63, he was trying to curtail his busy operating schedule. For 30 years he had been the busiest general surgeon
Wohl S. Death by Malpractice. JAMA. 1986;255(14):1927. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370140125038