Patient Claims Doctor Used Her in a Book

Robert Kahn reports:

A woman claims in court that a doctor who treated her for drug addiction invaded her privacy by using “her most private, embarrassing, and traumatizing memories in order to surreptitiously obtain material for the book … ‘The Addict: One Patient, One Doctor, One Year.'”

Gabrielle Lisnoff sued Dr. Michael Stein in Federal Court. Stein’s book was published by HarperCollins in 2009.

Read more about the lawsuit on Courthouse News.  The complaint was filed in district court in Rhode Island and alleges violations of  Rhode Island law.  Rhode Island’s online license verification tool shows that a Michael D. Stein is currently licensed as a physician and has had no disciplinary action against him.

If a patient’s case is unusual enough to want to write about or share with others, it’s likely also unusual enough to place the patient is at risk of being identified by those who recognize one or more details of the story – or for the patients to recognize themselves. Even if others do not identify the patient from the writing, I think most patients would be taken aback or distressed if they felt their doctor had exploited their relationship to write a book – even if the author’s intention was to educate (as opposed to commercial gain).

Of course, by suing Dr. Stein, Lisnoff has now essentially outed herself or declared herself as the subject or main patient described in the book, which may have significant and deleterious effects in terms of her future.   Her family and those who the book’s patient describes may also be left wondering whether Lisnoff actually said certain things about them or how much the author adapted what she may have said about them.  Future potential employers may also be curious enough to Google her name and discover that she sued her addiction treatment doctor.

Dr. Stein was not contacted by Courthouse News for a reaction to the lawsuit, which was filed on March 16.  It’s important to note that we do not know whether he will dispute her claim that the book is based on what she told him and readers are reminded once again that a lawsuit is just a complaint with allegations that have not been proven.

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