It may be a relief for doctors to know that few malpractice lawsuits actually go to a full-blown jury trial, as most claims are settled out of court.
Nonetheless, a malpractice lawsuit can have devastating results and there are steps physicians can take to avoid being sued in the first place, according to Diagnostic Imaging. Here’s three of the suggestions to prevent a lawsuit:
Communicate with patients, particularly if a mistake occurs. "Patients sue because they feel deserted, devalued or that they have not been given the complete answers for what's going on,” Michael R. Marks, M.D., an orthopedic spine surgeon from Connecticut, told the publication. Apologize when a mistake occurs. If a patient feels a doctor cares, they are less likely to sue. Marks recalled a former partner who had a bad patient outcome. After referring the patient to another health center for subsequent care, the surgeon continued to call the patient and check up every week. The patient decided not to sue the surgeon.
Double check your documentation on the electronic health record. The EHR can create medical malpractice opportunities. For example, it's easy to mistakenly click the wrong item in a click-down menu. So doctors must check their work and review a patient’s complete record before administering tests or prescribing medications, advised Ericka Adler, a regulatory transactional healthcare lawyer in Chicago.
Be realistic that a lawsuit may occur. Knowing they may face a lawsuit can be a tough realization, especially for young doctors, says Adler. Experienced doctors, however, are also at risk. Facing a malpractice trial can be an emotional ordeal—and one that lasts.