Why Am I Being Sued?!
Side Note: In a world where there are very few surprises left, there is one awful surprise that physicians, unfortunately, might have to face: the med mal lawsuit. Often, physicians have no idea that they will be sued for malpractice until they are served with papers. “Blindsided” would be a good way to describe how physicians often feel. Often, there is not a known injury that the physician is aware of. But, how is this possible? And, why do most physicians end up getting sued and have to use their liability coverage? When there is an alleged wrong-doing, what determines if a patient or family is going to sue or not? There are several possible reasons and we will discuss them here.
Some lawyers take the “Sue Everyone. We’ll Sort it Out Later.” approach. Often times, if the statute of limitations is running out or the plaintiff’s attorney does not have a good handle on the case, the lawyer decides to include anyone and everyone involved in the lawsuit. So, a physician may simply be dragged into a med mal lawsuit that he or she really has nothing to do with. While this seems like it should be less stressful for the involved physician, it is not. A lawsuit is a lawsuit and a lawsuit is a pain –mentally, financially and emotionally. And, even though a physician may only be a minor player in the case, it can still drag out for months or years. And, even if vindicated, what repercussions does the physician have? Rarely any. Would a physician really take the time to counter-sue for their damages incurred? That is just adding insult-to-injury (no pun intended) and seems like a further waste of time to most physicians.
Another way physicians may be unexpectedly brought into a lawsuit is if a patient was “lost” in follow-up. Most physicians are excellent at post-procedure follow-up, but are less good at long-term following of their patients. Quite simply, physicians should attempt to follow the care of their patients for a longer period of time to avoid increased liability –even if it is done by another, appropriate member of the staff. If a patient feels that he or she was “forgotten” and their health takes a turn for the worse, the patient may look to blame you, simply because you were previously involved in their care, whether the turn for the worse has to do with you or not. Woven within this blame-seeking is a lack of patient satisfaction. Patient satisfaction cannot be underestimated regarding the role it plays in med mal cases. Two patients may have the same poor outcome, but the decision to allege malpractice often can hinge on whether or not the patient felt “satisfied” with his or her interactions with the physician. If the patient felt that there was a good doctor-patient relationship and good communication and that the doctor truly had their best interest at heart, often there will not be a lawsuit.
No one ever wants the surprise of a lawsuit. But, should one happen to you, you want to be able to depend on your professional liability coverage. MyMedicalMalpracticeInsurance.com is here for you. We view ourselves as physician advocates and want to give you peace of mind knowing that you are well covered.
Would you like to see if MyMedicalMalpracticeInsurance.com can lower your med mal policy rates? If so, complete our free, no-obligation quote request today.
The Surprise Malpractice Suit: ‘Why Did You Sue Me?’
Mark E. Crane
Posted: 02/18/2011 on Medscape.com
More than 42% of physicians have been sued for medical malpractice over their careers, and more than 20% were sued at least twice, according to an American Medical Association (AMA) survey.
Many were flabbergasted when they received a summons alleging that their negligence had injured or killed a patient. Some assumed that even though an injury had occurred, the patient wouldn’t sue them. Others lost the patient in follow-up and had no idea that anything was wrong until they were sued.