In 2002 neurosurgeon Dr. Jeffrey Segal founded Medical Justice Services, Inc. to hawk malpractice insurance to doctors. In a New York Times interview of 2010, Segal said he had mustered a membership of 2,500 physicians for his insurance plan Physicians Shield. About half his members – amounting to 1,250 physicians – also signed up for the separate Web Anti-Defamation Package, popularly called the Gag Contract.
Those are paltry numbers. Compare them with national statistics:
Conclusion: The majority of professionals relentlessly shun Segal's policy of ‘Relentlessly Protecting Physicians.’ But a core subset of MDs do remain attracted to his warlike stance. It is worth identifying that subset.
Segal snagged only 2,500 members for his voluntary malpractice plan. This represents 0.29% of the active licensed physicians in his market area (USA and Puerto Rico).
Half of them, or 0.14%, added the Gag Contract to their armament.
We reverse-engineer the Segal Blog to learn the demographics of Segal's target audience – to discover the traits and values held by doctors who seek his services.
Those doctors pay high premiums in advance for this voluntary malpractice plan because they predict they will need the service. Those MDs predict that a negligence lawsuit against them is predestined.
On his Blog, Segal publishes articles on health law, as well as testimonials from doctors who have joined his organization. Of the six testimonials, two drive right to the secret heart of malpractice issues. One testimonial in particular will take your breath away.
When Jeffrey Segal abandoned his career to sell malpractice insurance, he chose a militant slogan:
“Relentlessly Protecting Physicians from Frivolous Lawsuits
Deterrence, Early Intervention, and Countersuit Protection
What is Segal's definition of ‘frivolous lawsuit’? Well… almost every lawsuit. Segal insists “the vast majority of malpractice lawsuits are meritless.” But this is merely wish-fulfillment, catering to the emotional state of physicians who get sued. Insurance specialist Richard Eskow spoke for the majority: “Segal's website is repugnant. The dominant tone is rage. The site comes perilously close to suggesting that their organization will discourage lawsuits through browbeating and intimidation, rather than a reasonable mustering of the facts. Their rhetoric borders on disturbing.”
To augment his website, Segal published a Blog on health law, with articles slanted to ‘justify’ a warlike stance against patients. The Blog also features testimonials from his members.
We preserve this Tuum Est page in our archives because the analysis remains valid, informative, and original. From time to time, Segal redesigns his Blog, but one common factor is sustained and stands out: The Segal Blog is always a showcase for testimonials from physicians who have joined his organization. Today in 2019, the testimonials are styled as videos. In 2011 the testimonials had a simpler style – a banner ad – but the content was noteworthy.
2011 style: Segal displayed a large banner ad atop each Blog page. In that prime screen real-estate, six testimonials appeared one at a time, for ten seconds each in a repeating cycle. Our right sidebar displays screenshots (click an image to enlarge/reduce it). That version of the Blog is no longer online, but we preserved one PDF showing the fade-out and fade-in of two sequential testimonials.
Segal studied demographics so he could match his ads meticulously to the aspirations, values, and temperament of his target audience. A demographic profile includes the physical traits (age, race, education, gender) along with the subjective attributes which characterize a population. Personal testimonials are a potent tool in marketing, especially if they go beyond technical specs to include psychological truths. Readers give weight to the opinions of people who are like themselves.
Segal's target audience is a small subset of the nation's physicians, namely MDs who particularly fear malpractice lawsuits, or who predict that a lawsuit against them is predestined. Segal surveyed these high-risk MDs to obtain their demographic profile, then he crafted careful ads to act as a magnet for this audience. We aim to reverse-engineer those ads.
How much of the testimonial content is based on reality?
Photographs Testimonial #5 depicts a male name (Larry Schlesinger, MD) beside a female face (masked, but wearing eye makeup). Thus for at least some photos that decorate these testimonials, Segal engaged models – perhaps for privacy; perhaps because actors can better get across complex emotions on demand.
Text The doctors are identified (some by name, others by initials) and the medical specialty is cited. They all joined Medical Justice Services, Inc. thus any doctor with initials is readily traced on Segal's Member Lookup page. Because the doctors really exist, the quoted words with high probability are their own.
Our analytic steps are detailed in the sections below. Bottom line: Doctors with a high potential for causing medical damage, who themselves forecast that they will become defendants in malpractice lawsuits, possess the following traits:
|Source: Testimonial #1||Supercilious, arrogant, prone to hubris,
with a misplaced sense of entitlement
|Source: Testimonial #3||Prone to mental health deficit|
In the first testimonial, examine the close-up (right). Study the expression on the face of the doctor (or model posing as a doctor). The model has pulled her facial muscles into a supercilious expression.
The facial expression is smug, arrogant, haughty. Note the V-shaped smirk, lips tucked in at the corners in a private sneer, eyebrows slightly raised with eyes alight. This portrays the classic sneer, the secret gloat, of someone getting away with breaches or wrongs.
Segal carefully crafted this model's pose. The sum of the elements is hubris, the hubris which heralds a downfall.
Segal pours thousands of dollars into advertising, and this pose is no accident. The image serves as a magnet for MDs who identify with arrogance.
Now study the quoted words in the third testimonial (pictured below). This endorsement will stun you, and take your breath away. The text says in part:
“They (Medical Justice Services) do not pay me and I totally, psychotically endorse them.
A tagline attributes the words to a Facial Plastic Surgeon with initials “S.L.” This physician can only be Dr. Samuel Lam who practices in Plano, Texas. He was identified via the Member Lookup function on Segal's main website.
That Member Lookup function is no longer publicly available, but Tuum Est kept a screenshot of our result (you can view it in the sidebar by clicking Dr. Lam Member Lookup). For corroboration we also cross-referenced his initials with the RateMDs Wall of Shame which publishes a list of known Medical Justice members who signed up for the Gag Contract.
Dr. Samuel Lam repeats his self-proclaimed ‘psychotic endorsement’ on the registration form for a Medical Justice Webinar titled Protecting Your Medical Practice from Medico-Legal Threats. A third time, Lam repeats his feverish endorsement – that he ‘totally, psychotically’ supports Segal's insurance plan – this time on a Medical Justice page titled Read What Other Doctors Have to Say.
Lam's testimonial has prominent place; the language is purposive and calculated. The phrasing is meant to reach physicians who possess, and identify with, the stated trait. For insider concepts, read Segal's own Blog page: Why Are So Many Neurosurgeons In, Or Potentially Headed To, Jail?
Though it was unstated, the two people posing in Testimonial #3 (above) were models hired for an advertising job. The photograph at leftbelow shows the real Dr. Samuel Lam.
Reviews on RateMDs for Dr. Samuel M. Lam form a bleak narrative of patients disfigured by this unskilled surgeon. Visit the current page at RateMDs 2019. A companion redaction, which removes the rhapsodic astroturfing, makes the pattern vivid. Earlier ratings for Dr. Lam are preserved at RateMDs 2010.
A fourth RipOff Report says Dr. Samuel Lam fails to inform of surgical risks: he recognizes people's desperation and takes advantage. A fifth Ripoff Report warns that Dr. Lam tries to silence patients who suffer adverse surgical outcomes. When the Gag Waiver was trending, Lam habitually used it to curtail free speech.
Despite the Gag Waiver, many patients were traumatized enough to persist in speaking out. In just one year, Consumers in Control compiled a total of 18 compelling negative critiques of Lam Facial Plastics. Also consult reviews on Vitals, Yelp, Doctor Scorecard.
Facial surgery gone wrong can cause ruinous disfigurement, social withdrawal, and a deep sense of betrayal Despite unabating havoc, the license of Dr. Samuel M. Lam shows no disciplinary action from the Texas Medical Board.
In a prominent testimonial on top of every page of Segal's Blog, and later in a CNN press interview, Dr. Samuel Lam trumpeted that he ‘totally, psychotically supports’ the militant malpractice plan of Medical Justice Services, Inc.
On the entrance of the Spa at Willow Bend is a lucite sign with jagged, jejune artwork painted by Dr. Samuel Lam. This business, planned as a lucrative sideline, has closed.
Articles found on the Segal Blog encompass themes of financial fraud, deceptive trade practices, and – his personal motif – obstruction of justice in malpractice trials. Like many health blogs these days, Segal's contains a gloss of ‘damage control’ – words, euphemisms, and ethical notions which the public expects to hear. But Segal's real position is starkly unprincipled. A sampling:
Medicare overpayments not returned within 60 days can be deemed a violation of the False Claims Act, whether or not the doctor intended to overcharge Medicare. Segal warns doctors: “Don't be on the receiving end of any allegation related to the False Claims Act. The FBI devotes an entire Task Force to Medicare fraud, and prosecution of such cases is cut-and-dried.”
On the other hand, in realms policed less strictly, Segal will indulge in deceptive trade practices. During a radio interview his General Counsel, Michael Sacopulos, expanded on this point, taking a risk-taker's view that regulations of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) can be easily flouted: “Few doctors ever get prosecuted because resources for enforcement are so limited.”
Most doctors view medicine as a balance of art and science. But for Segal, medicine is war, and his self-image is that of a hunter honing keen weapons.
More hypocrite than Hippocrates, Segal contends that doctors should have access to medical experts in court, but patients should not. Segal vows to “control the flow of information.” By this he means a one-way valve: He paves a smooth path for defence experts, but creates peril for the plaintiff's experts. His insurance policy contains these terms: A member physician who gets sued gets “access to a PEER team of volunteer defence experts.” But expert witnesses who testify on behalf of the patient can expect “counterclaims pursued against them in their professional societies and state licensing boards.”
Segal relishes the idea of counter-suing any patient audacious enough to take a doctor to court for malpractice. The patient is already at severe disadvantage, with health and finances drained by the original illness, exacerbated by negligence. To this Segal would annex another, inhumane burden, promising to “allocate up to $100,000 to a member physician to pursue viable counterclaims, when requested and appropriate, against any patient who files a malpractice suit.”
Point of contrast: In Canada, when a physician is sued for malpractice, the defence is managed by the Canadian Medical Protective Association. The CMPA commits excesses that in many ways rival Segal's, but the CMPA does not counter-sue frail and impoverished patients.
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This Webinar Form contains a prominent bold-font endorsement from Dr. Samuel Lam, which points out one trait of the type of doctor Medical Justice hopes to reach:
“Medical Justice is the single best thing I have done for my practice and has probably saved me $250K not to mention a nightmare. They do not pay me and I totally, psychotically endorse them. JOIN NOW. If you don't, you will regret it in the future. Seriously.
Member Dr. Samuel Lam often helps promote Medical Justice Services. Each of his quotes contains the stunning and disturbing phrase ‘psychotic endorsement’. Examples:
Medical Justice is the single best thing I have done for my practice and has probably saved me $250K not to mention a nightmare. They do not pay me and I totally, psychotically endorse them. In fact, I was on CNN national speaking on their behalf. JOIN NOW. If you don't, you will regret it in the future. Seriously. S.L. MD
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