Handed a Med Mal Subpeona? 8 Things to Do

Exam RoomWe understand that physicians do not like having to deal with getting med mal policies –much less having to use it. However, should the statistic that every physician will be sued for med mal at least once in his or her career, become reality for you, the article I read today could be of great help and comfort. The article, entitled, “Defending Yourself Against a Medical Malpractice Claim,” was posted on physicianspractice.com, and it offers some helpful advice. We’ll break it down here.

So, what should one do if served with a medical malpractice lawsuit?

1. Stay calm. The article suggests accepting it as a “cost of doing business.” A bit harsh, but a nice, simple way to look at it. The article mentions several ways physicians panic and end up hurting themselves and their case.

2. Assemble your team. This includes calling your med mal agent immediately.

3. Doctor, don’t lawyer. By this, the author means the physician should stick to what he or she knows best: medicine, and the lawyer should stick to what he or she knows best: the law. The one should not try to do the other’s job.

4. Marathon, not a sprint. The physician should accept that the legal process is slow and often frustrating. Often the deposition can be a major cause of stress for physicians, yet it may not take place for months or years after being served. The article goes into detail about how to prepare for this.

5. Conflicts of interest. Here, the author is referring to a situation in which the lawyer usually wants to settle because it will save the med mal company money –and the lawyer usually works for the med mal company. The article addresses this and the other kind of conflicts below.

6. When you do not want to settle but your insurer does.

7. When you want to settle but your insurer does not.

8. Retain perspective. This goes along with point number one: “stay calm.” Have faith in the legal system, ask your lawyer what to expect, know what is expected of you and work with it.

Finally, the article offers a few tidbits on how to avoid being sued and having to use one’s med mal coverage and also offers a nice list of “Lawsuit Do’s and Don’ts.”

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