In Memoriam – Paul R. Frisch JD

We are saddened to announce the death of our esteemed colleague, Paul R. Frisch JD, who was a true pioneer in promoting the importance of support for physicians who had suffered an adverse event and were involved in litigation.

The origin of the word “pioneer” helps to enlarge our view of Paul’s role in this work. The word comes from the Old French paonier that translates “foot soldier”. Paul was indeed a foot soldier. It is easy to forget that in the early 1980s, when the attention was first drawn to the emotional impact of litigation on physicians, the popular notion was that sued doctors were “bad doctors” and it was felt to be unseemly for physicians to acknowledge or make an issue of their own personal feelings about such events in their lives. They were warned “not to talk about it” to anyone and go about their work as though nothing had happened even though they were going through one of the most stressful events of their lives.

Paul, however, as legal counsel at the Oregon Medical Association (OMA), recognized that many of these doctors with whom he worked were not only stressed but evidenced a wide range of emotional symptoms. Paul lent the data base and services associated with the OMA for some of the earliest published studies designed to explore the extent and impact of the problem. He was a vocal participant in the American Medical Association’s Medical Liability Project and the National Patient Safety Foundation’s original Board of Directors, always keeping the focus on the person of the physician who was a central participant in the medical endeavor. Among other contributions, he was a founding member of the Physician Litigation Stress Resource Center (www.physicianlitigationstress.org) and was instrumental in establishing the site as a restricted fund within the Oregon Medical Educational Foundation (OMEF).

Paul was a wise colleague, an esteemed professional, a true gentleman, a devoted family man, and a dear friend. We will miss his counsel and presence in our lives.

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