Physicians Malpractice – Expect the Best
Physicians Malpractice – Expect the Best
What every physician hopes for, when stepping into a room to see a patient, is the best possible outcome for that patient.
Family Medicine and Internal Medicine Physicians often form long-term and trusting bonds with patients and their families, yet are the two specialties most often sued for physician malpractice.1
More than 42 percent of all U.S. physicians, including surgeons, have been sued for malpractice during the course of their careers and nearly three quarters of physicians who were named in a physician malpractice suit said they were astonished to learn that they were being sued.2
More than 42 percent of all U.S. physicians, including surgeons, have been sued for malpractice during the course of their careers
The emotional toll of a malpractice suit can be high. When a physician gets the dreaded call or subpoena saying that they have been named in a suit, they often experience high levels of stress and anxiety, question their competency, judgement and decision making skills, and may even treat their patients differently.
It’s difficult not to take a malpractice suit personally. Family Practice and Internal Medicine physicians often see a high volume of patients, which, in part, may account for the higher volume of malpractice suits. Their patients are often chronic, with limited treatment options. It helps to remember, “that litigation is about compensation, not competence, that those who are sued are often the best in their field, working with sick and high-risk patients, and that most physicians are eventually vindicated.”3
Whether a physician malpractice suit is settled out of court or goes to trial, the process can take months or years to resolve. Having a good support system and establishing a good rapport with an insurer can reduce the stress and anxiety that is created by a malpractice suit.
… litigation is about compensation, not competence, that those who are sued are often the best in their field, working with sick and high-risk patients, and that most physicians are eventually vindicated.
Because a physician’s reputation is at stake, most physicians feel that settling a malpractice suit carries a subtle admission of guilt. The majority of physicians report that their insurers reviewed their cases, worked with them, and did not require them to settle. About 25 percent of physician malpractice suits were dismissed prior to depositions but nearly half of the cases went to depositions while 21 per cent went all the way to trial.4
While most physicians say they were blindsided by their malpractice suits, many say that they have learned to trust their instincts when they see a “red flag.” Following up with a patient, even if it is not absolutely necessary, documenting more often, documenting more thoroughly and discharging rude, demanding and non-compliant patients can help reduce the risk of malpractice suits.5
On the bright side, most physicians report the best possible outcomes after a suit has been resolved. They report that the results of their malpractice suit were fair and that colleagues were supportive both during and after the suit was resolved. They say that their patients were either not aware of the suit or didn’t mention it and continued their relationship with the physician.
Fortunately, most physicians report no long-term emotional effects after resolution of their malpractice suit and still step into a room with a patient, hoping for the best possible outcome for that patient.
Doctors need a dependable and affordable insurance policy that can be trusted to protect their careers as well as their finances, so that they can concentrate on what they do best — treating their patients.
Please click here to contact Insurance Innovations today to speak with a dedicated professional.
1 Kane, CK, Policy research perspectives: medical liability claim frequency: a 2007-2008 snapshot of physicians. American Medical Association. 2010
2 Journal of the American College of Surgeons Volume 213, Issue 5 , Pages 657-667, November 2011 Personal Consequences of Malpractice Lawsuits on American Surgeons
3 Western Journal of Medicine Coping with a medical Malpractice suit, Sara C Charles, Copyright 2001 BMJ Publishing Group.
4 Medscape Malpractice Report: The Experience of Getting Sued, Leslie Kane, MA, July 24, 2013.
5 Medscape Malpractice Report, July 24, 2013.
6 Medscape Malpractice Report, July 24, 2013