The New England Journal of Medicine published a study in 2011 citing that 1 in 14 doctors face a malpractice suit every year. In addition, the study predicts" that almost every physician will face a malpractice suit during their career.
Doug McCullough, Esq., assistant vice president claims for The Doctors Company, a physician-owned medical malpractice insurer, noted that in today's litigious society, "It's not a matter of if you will be sued but when you will be sued."
Patients sue their physicians for many reasons, notes Richard Roberts, MD, JD, FAAFP, professor of Family Medicine at the University of Wisconsin Medical School and past president of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and the Wisconsin Medical Society. He says, "Overall, doctors win about 8 – 9 times out of every 10 suits that go to verdict at a trial. However, money might be paid (i.e., a settlement) up to half the time that is suit is filed. It depends on the specialty and the state."
Regardless of the outcome, Ericka Adler, partner, Roetzel & Andress, observes that malpractice suits are often at the top of the list of major stressors for most physicians. "A lawsuit can affect career and patient care decisions. It can also have long-term effects, both emotionally and financially." A physician must stay strong during the arduous process.
Here are tips on what to do if you are faced with a malpractice suit.
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