× Women Physicians

HAVE YOU BEEN SUED?........LET'S TALK!!

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15 years 5 months ago #21665 by **DONOTDELETE**
Okay, now I know I am bringing up a subject we all love to avoid but I would like to start a discussion about being sued. I am a young physician who is contemplating leaving medicine altogether. I feel that I was never really adequately prepared for the hostile environment that is medicine. I was always told... be a good doctor, don't make the patients mad and they will not sue you. When I was in medical school I did not see this as a problem because I had no intentions of being anything other than a good doctor and a caring person. Well, as we know today whether you did anything wrong or not has very little to do with being sued. All you really need is a bad outcome or sometimes even just an angry patient. A friend of mine (a nurse) was sued when a morbidly obese 13 year old came into the ER with abdominal pain. Before the nurse could triage her she asked to go to the restroom and promptly delivered her baby...she supposedly had no idea she was pregnant. Well, she sued the nurse because she did not give her dignitiy of person because she "made" her deliver in a restroom. We all know about these cases. Even if you get lucky and the case is dismissed you still loose. Depression, marital strain or divorce, self doubt, viewing every patient as a potential law suit.... We have all seen physicians who were sued that suddenly appeared a lot older. Sometimes it changes their entire personality.

I can imagine that some of you think I am just full of sour grapes because I have been sued. No, I have not been sued to date... but you know they have plenty of time to do so. I just think it is unreasonable for us to make a decision about a career in medicine without really knowing what it entails.

I have a secret goal of becoming a pediatric dermatologist. Even though I am a BC pediatrician I would have to go back and do a total separate residency. I am not willing to make this sacrifice if I cannot come to terms with or learn to deal with medicine as it is.

I am begging anyone out there with experience dealing with a law suit to please share. It is time we starting talking about it. What was it like? Did you "lose everything" and if so what does this really mean? I may just be slow but I really have been researching this and so far have not been able to find out what really happens to doctors after they are sued. I mean financially, emotionally, spiritually etc. Has anyone else done research on this topic and found sites that are helpful?

Thanks,

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15 years 5 months ago #21666 by horseman
YOur state medical society should be a good resourse. Mine has a support network for physicians struggling with suit-related stresses. YOur malpractice insurer would be another good resource.

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15 years 5 months ago #21667 by obgyn17
I have been sued so many times, I had to change malpractice carriers. It is terrible for any high risk specialty. Some of my colleagues have been forced to retire. I am not an expert in dealing with stress, but finding other physicians and professionals you can talk to about this can help. Also, I am working to bring this issue to the attention of the public and the legislature.
Just writing letters about the subject has been a huge release for me. I also try to do things I enjoy like going to concerts, and stress relief measures such as yoga and exercise. Ultimately, the problem is that we are stuck in a system that really sucks. I have moments of severe depression even with all of the above things I do to try to relieve stress. Thanks for writing and allowing me to ventilate a little. I would be interested in hearing from others.

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15 years 5 months ago #21668 by ellie
Wow, OBGN17... :grouphug:
Good job on hanging in there.
Ellie

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15 years 5 months ago #21669 by GracieThree
ObGyn17 - I was just reading in the AMA newsletter that the premiums for OBs in particular are skyrocketing. I was also surprised to see that St. Louis was pretty high up there on list of average premium payments. I wonder what is going on in St. Louis? Is it a litiginous environment? I have been reading with great interest the tort reform suggestions going before the legislature in my state (AL) as well as the recent strikes of general surgeons on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Something has got to give. Floride is trying to pass legislation to top one of the penalties at $250K per case. What a change that would be from these million dollar verdicts.

I am about to start looking for private malpractice insurance - yikes!

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15 years 5 months ago #21670 by kiddiestatdoc

Originally posted by horseman:
YOur state medical society should be a good resourse. Mine has a support network for physicians struggling with suit-related stresses. YOur malpractice insurer would be another good resource.

When I first was sued I called my state medical society to see if there was a support group or anyone that could serve as a mentor through the horrific process. There was no group or any mentor.

I was profoundly influenced by this suit. When found "guilty" I immediately quit my job and could not return for 1 whole week after rethinking my hasty decision. I feared patients, particularly Spanish speaking only, as there was a language barrier with the individual who sued. It is now more than 5 years later and even though the case was overturned on appeal and then settled without liability to me, I practice very defensive medicine. This means that I order more tests than necessary, am paranoid in dealing with patients who speak different languages, and am generally anxious. I have lost faith in my belief that our world is generally made up of people who mean no harm and I am less idealistic (this is not necessarily a bad thing,,,,,I am more realistic). This also caused me to leave clinical practice for a period of time to do administration which did not involve a malpractice risk. After doing that for 2 years, I missed clinical medicine, was bored with admin, and had to reeducate myself in my chosen field due to my absence. I also was less marketable.

All in all, I think it traumatized me completely, and made me self doubt even more than I had before, and makes me hate my job due to its everpresent risk. I would get out of medicine in a heartbeat if I could find a position in administration that excited me as much as patient care.

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