The Doctor’s Advocate | First Quarter 2023

In Memoriam: Donald J. Palmisano, MD, JD, FACS

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Donald J. Palmisano, MD, JD, FACS, who served on our Board of Governors from 2004 through 2019. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Richard E. Anderson, MD, FACP, delivered the eulogy at the memorial celebrating Dr. Palmisano’s remarkable life. We include highlights of Dr. Anderson’s tribute here:  

It’s been said that “few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.” This wasn’t true for Donald. He was a great example, and we loved him for it. 

We knew him as a tireless advocate for medical-legal reform and patient safety. We knew him as the 158th president of the American Medical Association. We knew the tireless Dr. Palmisano, who spent more than 200 days in a single year traveling across the United States to defend healthcare in America. 

Donald was an MD-JD who was a credit to both professions. His commitment to medical-legal reform dates to his founding membership in the Louisiana Medical Mutual Insurance Company and his critical role in achieving legal reforms in Louisiana—still among the most robust in the country.  

We knew him as an officer in the U.S. Air Force who learned to fly while serving as Chief of Surgery for the 821st Medical Group and who was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal for his efforts following the crash of a B-52 bomber. 

We knew him as a distinguished general and vascular surgeon practicing in New Orleans, where he became a Clinical Professor of Surgery and Medical Jurisprudence at Tulane University School of Medicine. 

We knew him as a member of The Doctors Company Board of Governors, where he served with distinction for 15 years. He was the embodiment of our mission “To advance, protect, and reward the practice of good medicine.” 

We knew him as a volunteer crossing the lines during Katrina to distribute emergency supplies, learn from the tragedy, and encourage those on the front lines. We knew him as a citizen who always carried an emergency tracheostomy tool, so he was prepared to respond on the spot to even the most life-threatening of emergencies. 

He was an early adopter of computers who created a cornucopia of books, speeches, articles, reviews, and DJP Updates. All were documented with precise references and links. We knew him as a devotee of literature and poetry and an accomplished author. We knew him as a great connector in a fragmented culture, someone who could create tweets, DJP Updates, and Law Review articles with equal facility. 

We knew him as a man of both physical and moral courage. In a cynical world, Donald believed in ethics and justice and faithfully followed his father’s advice: “Do your homework, have courage, and don’t give up.” 

We are grateful for his leadership, his friendship, his wisdom, his courage, and his relentless advocacy on behalf of integrity, scholarship, and service. 

Donald often spoke of his heroes—people who inspired him. Some were well known in history and literature, others were contemporaries, but all were people of courage and principle, and included his own father, New Orleans Police Major Dominic Palmisano. 

Donald was, and is, a hero of mine. 

The Doctor’s Advocate is published by The Doctors Company to advise and inform its members about loss prevention and insurance issues.

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