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Conceptualizing Sequential Events for Medical Malpractice Visualization


Prof. Leila Lax¹, Mr. Richard Halpern² (content expert)


Amanda Miller¹


Canadian courtroom, for the plaintiff

Completed on:

Dec. 2017

Tools used:

Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator

This is an illustration created through a co-design project working with Amanda Miller (LINK) as part of the Sequential Medical Communication course. Amanda and I chose to depict the sequence of events in a 2016 medical malpractice case Bell v. Ries and Wigmore, from BC Canada. As medical legal illustrators in the plaintiff's side, we used a combined approach of integrating grouped anatomical visualizations into a compound timeline, to clearly parse out the dense sequence of events that Mr. Bell experienced over many years of his illness.

¹Biomedical Communications, University of Toronto, ²Thomson Rogers Lawyers

Process Work

1. Rationale

This project was done as a mock exercise for negotiating, designing and creating a medical legal piece for a law firm. Additionally, it was an exercise for familiarizing ourselves with co-design processes with colleagues.

2. Background Research

The case file (Bell v. Ries and Wigmore 2016) acted as a primary source of information during background research for this project. From it, major narrative-specific information was parsed, organized chronologically, and categorized by their nature (testimony / symptom / operation etc) and source (various physicians / plaintiff etc). Additional research was then conducted on relevant anatomy, pathology, and surgical details.

Grant's Atlas, 14e

3. Asset Creation

Illustrations tasked to me were focused on middle and inner ear structures in respect to the plaintiff's head, as such a stylistic constraint was placed on colour saturation, so that only ear anatomy and surgical tools were colourized for salience. The rendering process was that of creating grayscale tonal illustrations, followed by colour "glazing" using Hue / Saturation adjustment layers.

4. Co-Design Process

Throughout the project, my co-design partner (Amanda) and I were engaged in group iteration of the piece. Principally, we tasked each other with producing various components of the piece, and provided intensive feedback for components tasked to the other person. By this process, we arrived at a multimodal timeline design which clearly visualized the complex set of data spanning many years in this case. The final deliverable piece for this project was to be printable as large courtroom poster-boards, as well as 11'' x 30'' handout sheets.


Augur, A.M.R., and A.F. Dalley. Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy 14e. Page 680-690: Head: Ear. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins Company. 2017.

Canada. British Columbia. Bell v. Ries and Wigmore. BCSC 309. Vancouver, BC. 2016.

Clemente, C.D. Anatomy: a Regional Atlas of the Human Body 6e. Plate 660, 662. Ear. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. 2011.

Hawk Library. 1999. The Normal Tympanic Membrane.jpg. Retrieved November, 2017, from

Netter, F.H. Atlas of Human Anatomy 6e. Plate 95-96. Tympanic Cavity. Philadelphia, PA : Saunders/Elsevier. 2014.

Reilly, B.K., McCormick, M.E., and A.D. Meyers. Tympanoplasty Technique: Transcanal Approach. Medscape. 2016. Retrieved November, 2017, from https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/2051819-technique#c2