Getting notification of an impending lawsuit is a stressful event. It is important for physicians who receive these notices to take the matter seriously, and act to protect their interests. Whether currently navigating a med mal allegation or not, it is wise for every physician to have a basic understanding of how they will handle these types of claims.
Odds of a lawsuit
Unfortunately, the chances are high. According to a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine, those in high-risk specialties, like neurosurgery and cardiothoracic surgery, have a 99% likelihood of facing a lawsuit during their career. Those in low-risk specialties, like family practice and psychiatry, face a 75% likelihood of a med mal suit.
Tips when facing a med mal claim
Regardless of the details of the allegations, the following generally hold true:
- Notify the right people. In most cases, physicians are wise to promptly reach out to their insurance provider when they are served with a med mal lawsuit. Next, seek legal counsel.
- Do not discuss the case. It is important to refrain from discussing the details of the allegations with coworkers. Instead, have these conversations with your legal counsel.
- Do not alter records. It may be tempting to review the records relating to the case and update them to better reflect the care you provided. Refrain. This can be viewed as an attempt to hide something and may make it more difficult to defend against the allegations of wrongdoing.
Those who find themselves facing a lawsuit will have multiple options to consider during the course of the suit. Negotiations could include settlements or court battles. The right course of action will depend one each case.