Family Medicine Doctors

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      Family Medicine Doctors and their Med-Mal Coverage

      Medical malpractice insurance premiums for family practice physicians vary markedly based on the location and focus of the practice. Florida and Illinois are two states in which Family Physicians pay the most for their med-mal ins., sometimes $30,000 or higher for a mature, claims-made policy. In less litigious states like Minnesota, premiums can be $3,000 or less. Texas and California tend to have lower premiums, where strong, tested tort reforms like limits on noneconomic damages in malpractice cases have been enacted. Premiums are much higher for family physicians that practice invasive procedures or do some obstetrics in their practice than for those who do not. In today’s hostile malpractice climate, many doctors who once included obstetrics as part of their practice have eliminated such procedures in order to lower their liability insurance premiums.

      On average, a family physician must face a malpractice suit about once every seven to ten years. Good risk management techniques can help to minimize the chance of being sued and make a family care physician’s case more defensible if he must go to court. In family practice, the five areas in which suits are most common are all diagnostic errors. A study from the Physician Insurers Association of American (PIAA) lists these five common misdiagnoses as myocardial infarction, breast cancer, appendicitis, lung cancer and colon cancer. The most common single reason for a suit against a family physician is the mishandling of a diagnosis of myocardial infarction. In order to minimize risk, doctors should fully document all actions taken in the treatment process, including advice given to patients and the processes behind diagnoses. Some experts also recommend asking patients to write out their complaint each time they have an appointment, so that there can be no confusion later. Doctors should take care to make notes legible, and never alter notes if a claim is made.

      In addition to maintaining full and thorough documentation, evidence shows that a physician’s risk of being sued for malpractice can be diminished by maintaining a good relationship with patients and cultivating a compassionate, personal bedside manner. This advice is particularly germane to family practice, where the specialty is based on the personal care of the whole patient.

      Family physicians who want to reduce their medical malpractice insurance premiums should support tort reform efforts. The American Academy of Family Physicians, an important specialty organization, advances a position of reform that includes limits on noneconomic damages in malpractice cases, limiting attorneys’ fees, reducing statutes of limitations and incentives for alternative case resolution methods.

      Family Medicine Physicians can request their free medical malpractice insurance quote here.

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

      Resources for Family Medicine Doctors

      Society of Teachers of Family Medicine
      Family Practice Management
      American Board of Family Medicine
      Family Medicine – Medscape
      Annals of Family Medicine
      American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation
      Family Practice (journal)
      Association of Departments of Family Medicine
      Best Family Medicine Programs (US News)
      Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine