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      Endocrinologists & their Liability Coverage

      Endocrinology is a subspecialty of internal medicine, focusing on diseases and conditions of the endocrine system, which includes the pituitary gland, thyroid, adrenals, ovaries, testes and pancreas. The primary professional organizations for the specialty include the Endocrine Society and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE).

      There is currently a shortage of endocrinologists in the United States, as older physicians in the specialty have been retiring and medical students have been choosing other specialties. A 2003 study showed the supply of endocrinologists to be 12-percent below demand, and more recent data shows that only about 85 percent of endocrinology fellowship positions are filled each year. A 2008 survey examined the motivations behind medical students when choosing a specialty: students were deterred from endocrinology primarily by inadequate compensation, lack of procedures in the specialty and the inherent difficulty in changing patients’ behavior. This trend is concerning, as America’s aging population faces commonplace conditions like obesity, thyroid disease and diabetes.

      Because there are generally no surgical procedures involved in endocrinology, it is not considered a high-risk specialty, and medical malpractice insurance premiums for endocrinologists are relatively low. Premiums can vary considerably due to a variety of factors, like previous claims, hours worked, the number of patients seen per week and the state in which they practice. Historically non-litigious states and states that have successfully enacted tort reform measures, like caps on awards for non-economic damages, generally have the lowest premiums for medical malpractice insurance. Endocrinologists who are board certified in obstetrics and gynecology and specialize in reproductive endocrinology will pay higher premiums than generalist endocrinologists.

      Though they face considerably less risk than physicians in surgical specialties, endocrinologists should still follow risk management guidelines to minimize their liability exposure. One of the most important areas in risk management is documentation. Records should be kept of all interactions with patients, including phone calls and messages. It should be noted what was said and by whom. These records should be clear, organized and consistent. Thorough documentation is essential should there be a lawsuit. Also important is communication and forming relationships with patients. Patients who feel they were valued and respected by their physician are much less likely to sue their physician in case of a negative outcome.

      Endocrinologists who are concerned about rising medical malpractice insurance premiums, or about the reimbursement issues that are preventing young physicians from entering the specialty, should visit the advocacy section of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists’ website.

      If you are a practicing Endocrinologist, and want to save money on your medical malpractice insurance, request your free quote today.

      This write-up for Endocrinologists was put together by Michael Matray, the Editor of the Medical Liability Monitor

      Necessary Resources for Endocrinologists

      Endocrinology (journal)
      Society for Endocrinology
      What is an endocrinologist? (patient information)
      A Site Dedicated to the Study of Endocrinology
      American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists
      Endocrinology News from Medical News Today
      Journal of Endocrinology
      Molecular Endocrinology