Medical Aftermath and Update

In 2007 we settled a wrongful death suit that we had brought against the hospital and the doctors. It was a painful process for us, but we felt that we needed an independent assessment of what happened and the legal system provides for this. At every turn in this protracted process, we encountered nothing but respect and compassion from all parties. (Download below for full comments.)  

We also sponsor annual lectures on patient safety--especially the risk of diagnostic error--at the University of Minnesota Medical School. (A list of presenters is available below.)

Medical Aftermath and Update (docx)


Julia Berg Lectures (docx)


Doubt Dan Berg, as published in July 2009 issue of Academic Pediatrics.

(This  article was published anonymously due to a confidentiality agreement  with the doctors and hospital. Describing the circumstance of Julia's  death and the errors that were acknowledged as contributing factors, the  article was written in the hope that its publication will contribute to  the safety of other children and patients who depend on the wisdom as  well as the skill of the doctors who serve them. Welcome's name appears as Debra.)


For  what it’s worth, as a layman and as a father who has replayed countless  times the six days before his daughter’s death, here’s what I find to  be the common denominator: Everyone involved in Julia’s care gave  someone else the benefit of the doubt. The gastroenterologist ceded to  the surgeon; our pediatrician to the specialists; the surgeon to the  anesthesiologist; the PACU nurse to the 6th floor. We, Julia’s parents,  to the whole system.

But, isn’t trust the fundamental building  block of collaborative care? How can the system function without an  interdependent web of expertise? Don’t you strive for and ultimately  depend upon a team of qualified experts? Doctors, technicians, nurses  and families who know their children best?

The team attending  Julia was experienced and well-qualified. But in this case, with its  confusing indicators there was, perhaps, too much trust. Where was the  empowered skeptic, or the culture that rewards those who question,  question and question again?

There is so much knowledge, so much  capacity, so much data. And yet with all of these assets the chances for  confusion, miscommunication, and conflicting analysis remain. Maybe  they’re enhanced. In a field like no other in its capacity to intervene  between life and death, maybe it’s time to reexamine the value of doubt  in the diagnostic equation.   

                                  (To read the entire article, please download the link below...)

DOUBT-published version (pdf)