When a Patient Threatens to Sue You for Malpractice

June 5, 2013

What’s the best course of action when a patient threatens to sue you for malpractice?

It’s a scary moment when a patient threatens his doctor with a malpractice lawsuit. Unfortunately, many of you have experienced it.

One out of every six physicians has been threatened with a lawsuit, while 35 percent of physicians have actually been sued, according to Physicians Practice’s 2013 Great American Physician Survey findings based on more than 1,200 physician responses (the full survey results will be unveiled this September).

What should you do when a patient threatens to sue? Dismissing the patient from your practice could anger him further and push him to make a claim against you. Retaining the patient in your practice, however, could exacerbate problems and cause physicians and staff increased anxiety.

What action do you recommend your physician colleagues take when a patient threatens to sue? Share your thoughts in the comments box below. Your response could help another physician deal with this issue.

Facing a dilemma in practice? E-mail it to Aubrey.Westgate@ubm.com. We’ll share it without revealing your name, and we will ask other physician readers to weigh in.