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Doctor Confesses: I Lied to Protect Colleague in Malpractice Suit

By ProPublica  
   September 26, 2016

A South Dakota surgeon who has become an outspoken patient advocate now assists the medical malpractice attorney who represented the patient in the case in which he lied for his partner.

This article first appeared September 23, 2016 on ProPublica

By Marshall Allen

This story was co-published with NPR's Shots blog.

Almost two decades ago Dr. Lars Aanning sat on the witness stand in a medical malpractice trial and faced a dilemma.

The South Dakota surgeon had been called to vouch for the expertise of one of his partners whose patient had suffered a stroke and permanent disability after an operation. The problem was Aanning had, in his own mind, questioned his colleague’s skill. His partner’s patients had suffered injuries related to his procedures. But Aanning understood why his partner’s attorney had called him as a witness: Doctors don’t squeal on doctors.

The attorney asked the key question: Did Aanning know of any time his partner’s work had been substandard?

ProPublica is an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest.

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