Medical Liability Protection for Physicians

Malpractice suits are an inevitable component of the healthcare system. As a physician, there may come a time in your career in which you are exposed to a malpractice suit. It is critical to protect yourself from medical liabilities by being aware of the process and how to handle it:

Make sure you have Malpractice Insurance.

Liability coverage is one of the most important insurance policies for physicians. This will protect physicians finances as well as their reputation. In the case of a malpractice suit, your insurance comes into play by defending you with legal counsel and covering the cost of the legal counsel. 

Receiving a Notice Letter.

Receiving a Notice Letter with intent to file can certainly be daunting. Having said that, take comfort in the fact that most physicians have gone through this exact process or will likely to in the future. 

There are a few steps to consider once you have received the letter: 

  1. You must inform your insurance carrier immediately. This allows for more preparation time and ensures your coverage. 
  2. Retrieve the patient’s chart and keep it in a safe space. At no point should you make any changes or alterations to the chart. 
  3. Do not contact or attempt to contact the plaintiff’s attorney. Even if you are positive the claim is a mistake, speaking with the attorney on your own behalf will likely cause more harm than good.  
  4. Do not discuss the case with anyone, including your liability insurance agent. Your only task is to inform them that you will be needing an attorney. Your attorney will help you assess the situation to see if there was a breach of the standard of care.
  5. Whether you are currently dealing with a malpractice suit or have yet to experience this process, you should always be prepared and aware. Be as detailed as possible when documenting every patient visit. Also, write out and reflect on your thought process when providing treatment plans and diagnoses. 

Having support is critical

It is important to keep a circle of support with friends, family and colleagues throughout the process, without discussing the clinical details of the situation. Try your best to take care of your physical and mental health. If you are experiencing stress from the medico-legal situation, what often helps is counseling with a qualified healthcare provider to discuss your feelings and thoughts. 

Looking for more information on liability and protection for physicians? Check out:
Disability Insurance for Physicians
Managing Access to Electronic Health Records
Medical Expert Witness: Dos and Don’ts