Six Things To Never Do in a Med Mal Lawsuit

Female PhysicianNothing can prepare a physician for a med mal lawsuit. They are awful and physicians dread them for good reason. In past blog posts we have given physicians advice on how to handle med mal lawsuits and what to do should they face one. Today, we would like to talk about what NOT to do, should a physician be facing a med mal lawsuit.

Six Things a Physician Should Never Do in a Med Mal Lawsuit

1. Never, under any circumstances, alter the medical record. Though this may be tempting, do not do it. If you take away anything from this post, NEVER alter the medical record. If necessary, make separate notes for yourself.

2. Don’t overreact. Easier said than done, we know. But the truth is that almost every physician will face at least one med mal lawsuit in his or her career. That is the unfortunate reality that we live in today. And, this is why physicians have med mal coverage!

3. Don’t let a med mal lawsuit impact future patient care. While it’s difficult to not let a lawsuit make a physician feel jaded, they should not let it. This is only one patient out of hundreds! And, physicians should ask themselves if there is anything they can do to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Is there an opportunity for practice improvement?

4. Do not contact the patient unless instructed to do so. Again, this may be tempting, but do not do it unless instructed to do so by the med mal insurance company.

5. Don’t hope that the lawsuit will go away. Physicians should be proactive and take charge in order to be prepared, organized, etc. Read all documents, correspondence and create a file regarding the case.

6. Don’t worry about how it will impact your future med mal coverage until it’s over. Physicians should ask their med mal insurance company, “What’s the reserve amount for the claim?” This can give a good indication of the amount of money a plaintiff may win. Often, it is helpful to have a dollar amount in mind –so one’s imagination doesn’t run wild, and it’s helpful to know the worse-case-scenario. And, while it’s true that claims can up a physician’s cost for med mal coverage, the claim may be dropped and it is possible that it will not affect a physician’s rates.

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