Top 8 Ways to Survive a Liability Lawsuit

Surgical Instruments When a physician learns that he or she is facing a liability lawsuit, it always comes as a surprise. Even though every physician knows that in this day and age he or she is going to be sued at some point in his or her career for medical liability, nothing can prepare a physician for this experience. Getting sued for med mal can raise a lot of emotions for physicians. A physician may feel shocked, confused, blind-sided, or even betrayed when first hearing of the lawsuit. And, as the lawsuit drags on, a physician may feel angry, frustrated, stressed, depressed and/or even burned-out regarding his or her career.

What can a physician do to feel more empowered and more in control of a situation that is so often out of the physician’s control? Staying on top of the case by getting and staying organized is one thing. Here are eight ways to do just that.

Top 8 Ways to Survive a Liability Lawsuit:

1. Thoroughly review all med mal lawsuit-related documents as soon as you get them.
2. Contact your professional liability agent and/or liability insurance company immediately.
3. Review all patient records while they are (relatively) fresh and make any notes separately. Do not change anything or alter the medical record!
4. Keep all lawsuit-related documents (including correspondence) together, organized in a binder or file, along with your notes.
5. Put any lawsuit-related dates on your calendar as soon as you get them.
6. Ask yourself if there is anything you can do in your practice from here forward to reduce this type of lawsuit in the future. Taking steps to prevent this type of error or reduce future liability can give piece of mind. (We realize that sometimes, unfortunately, there is nothing that could have been done to prevent a lawsuit.)
7. Reach out to colleagues who may have faced a similar situation. Often, a lot of comfort can be had just knowing that someone else knows what you’re going through.
8. Take care of yourself. Know that the lawsuit doesn’t define you, that you’re not the only physician to ever be sued for medical malpractice (though it may feel like it). Make sure you get enough sleep and exercise.

At we know that liability lawsuits can be devastating and frustrating, and hopefully taking control of the situation, rather than letting it control you, can help ease the process.

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