Even after losing his defamation lawsuit in the Minnesota Supreme Court, Dr. David McKee seems completely unaware that he has tormented a patient's family for discussing his bedside manner on the Internet. Dr. McKee also claims not to believe that a nurse described him as a "tool".
Many people would consider Dr. McKee to be cowardly and relentless to have dragged a man through the courts simply for taking advantage of his First Amendment rights. The financial resources of the doctor and the man he sued were vastly disparate.
Ticked Off Doctor Sues Patient's Son for Comments About Bedside Manner
By Trisha Torrey
May 16, 2011
In April 2010, Kenneth Laurion, a man in his mid-80s from Duluth, Minnesota, suffered a stroke.
His doctor, Dr. David McKee, must have been a real S. O. B. - abrupt and rude at the very least. As a result, Mr. Laurion's son, Dennis, contacted the powers-that-be to complain. He recounted his experience to groups like the American Academy of Neurology, the American Neurological Association, two physicians in Duluth, Minnesota (where all this took place) the St. Louis County Public Health and Human Services Advisory Committee and St. Luke's hospital, and others - 19 in total.
Dennis Laurion told those groups that Dr. McKee (quoted here from the Duluth News Tribune):
. . . "seemed upset" that Kenneth Laurion had been transferred from the Intensive Care Unit to a ward room; that McKee told the Laurion family that he had to "spend time finding out if [the patient] had been transferred or died;" that McKee told the Laurions that 44 percent of hemorrhagic stroke victims die within 30 days; that McKee told the patient that he didn't need therapy; that McKee said it didn't matter that the patient's gown was hanging from his neck with his backside exposed; that McKee blamed the patient for the loss of his time; and that McKee didn't treat his patient with dignity.
In return, Dr. McKee got ticked off, defended his actions - and sued Dennis Laurion for making libelous statements.
But the judge dismissed the suit citing the fact that there was no evidence to show the doctor had been harmed, and stated that nothing defamatory had taken place - that his statements seemed to be more about an emotional discussion of the issues.
So what's the take-away for those of us who have had our own run-in with doctors? Plenty.
First - most of us have had our own experiences with arrogant and condescending doctors - doctors who are so full of themselves and their own lives that they treat us like dirt. They need a cummupence of their own. (For them I wish the karma of their own health challenges to give them some flavor of exactly what they are doing to their patients. No harm wished - just karma. They seem to learn really quickly that way.)
And yes - we have the right and perhaps even the obligation to complain, just as Dennis Laurion did. I've written before about how it's incumbent upon us to make sure the right people know how poorly we were treated. It's the only way to instill the necessary attitude adjustments. (If you think about it, I'll bet Dr. McKee will be a little more thoughtful the next time he wants to heap his S. O. B. -ness on another patient or loved one!) The only caveat is that we must recount exactly our experiences - not shade or embellish them. Report problems as if you were a journalist describing the experience - not the emotions, just the facts.
But I also remind you that nice doctors are not the same as competent doctors - and (as one of my twitter doctor friends reminds me) - competent doctors aren't always nice. Sometimes we just have to recognize that getting good medical care might require us to put up (in the short term) with this kind of arrogance, no matter how difficult and disconcerting it might be. That doesn't make it right. It just is what it is.
But the bottom line, to me, is this. . . . decent medical care requires a variety of skills from our doctors including the mechanics of medicine, and the respectful communications that go along with that, too. By reporting the transgressions of Dr. David McKee to those many groups he interfaces with, Dennis Laurion did Dr. McKee's future patients a favor.
Next time around, Dr. McKee will think twice before he accosts his patients and their families with his insulting and callous behavior. And that's as it should be.
February 10, 2013
(12) David McKee says:
Okay let me set you straight on a few things. First, Mr Laurion and I do not agree at all as to what was said and what happened. More importantly, Mr. Laurion (the son, not the patient) contradicted his account of what happened numerous times. No Trisha, I am not a real SOB as you have concluded based on accepting the statements which I sued Laurion over as truthful. If they were truthful I would not have brought the suit forward. Dennis Laurion is a sick malicious bully. He wrote several versions of what transpired in his father’s hospital room, each more slanderous and exaggerated than the last. As an example, in the earliest versions of Laurion’s description, he mentioned, accurately, that I helped his father to a standing position. A later version stated that I pulled his father out of bed; still later that I jerked his father against a closed bedrail and against his will.
[Maura Larkins note: All three versions could be true. Since the father was unhappy to be standing in his skimpy gown, and he knew what kind of gown it was before he got up, it seems quite likely that he was not willing to get up. But really, why make such a big deal out of this sort of thing? Sometimes a doctor does have to demand that a patient stand up so that he knows how well the patient can stand. And it's quite likely that a doctor would not want to use his well-educated hands to tie a dressing gown on a patient--I'm not saying I approve this attitude, just that I think it's a common one.]
Laurion also complained that I humiliated his father by not tying the back of his father’s hospital gown. In fact, Dennis Laurion was sitting in a chair on the same side of his father’s bed as the patient. He would have needed only to lean forward a little to reach the ties of the gown. I was on the opposite side of the bed and could not have reached the back of the gown if I had wanted to.
After I left the patient’s room I was sitting at a nurses station only 30 feet from where Dennis Laurion was sitting and in plain sight. He could have discussed any concern with me then without the slightest difficulty. Instead he chose to begin his smear campaign against me. He fired off 19 letters of complaint within the next few days.
He tried for several weeks to get the local media outlets interested; none would have anything to do with him until he met up with Mark Stodghill of the Duluth News Tribune. The two of them met several times over a 2 week period to come up with a great doctor bashing piece of propaganda. Stodghill placed a call to my office at 4:55 p.m. on a Friday. I was not on call and had left for the day. This was the only attempt he made to contact me. The newspaper article came out only 10 hours later. Still the one half hearted attempt to reach me allowed the reporter to accurately state that “calls to Dr. McKee were not returned”, implying that I had something to hide. The article was so biased that of approximately 80 conversations with patients who brought up the matter, only 2 understood that I was suing Laurion; the rest misunderstood and believed I was being sued by Laurion.
I have been the victim of a cowardly relentless series of attacks by a truly sick human being. The fact that you appear to always assume that if a complaint is made against a physician, the physician must be in the wrong, makes you little better than Mark Stodghill who was willing to use the lowest possible journalistic standards seemingly designed to get the story wrong so as to allow for the most inflammatory headline possible.