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What’s It Like to Be Sued?


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What’s It Like to Be Sued?

By Tom A. Augello, CRICO

Related to: Claims, Emergency Medicine, Primary Care, Nursing, Obstetrics, Other Specialties, Publications, Surgery

One physician said that when you’re being sued for medical malpractice,  “you want a whole army behind you.” The second physician advised the need to “fly in formation” with the insurance representatives, defense attorney, and supportive colleagues. A third remarked that the experience left him less trusting of patients. The fourth physician said it hasn’t changed how he interacts with patients “one whit.”

Four physicians from the Harvard medical system, including two chiefs of service, have shown remarkable leadership and courage to help CRICO produce a compelling DVD that describes the malpractice lawsuit experience.

CRICO  produced Sued: The Physician’s Journey, to help demystify the litigation process, reduce the shame often associated with being sued, and explore the emotional impact on the physician defendants who can go through the process feeling isolated, especially from their peers.

“We know the profound negative impact medical malpractice cases have on  the defendant’s professional and personal lives,” says CRICO President Mark E. Reynolds. “By increasing public awareness and understanding of the impact of a lawsuit on a physician, we hope to create a better climate for a successful defense.”

The Sued DVD includes a 19-minute film that features interviews with four physician defendants, a psychiatrist, a defense attorney, liability insurance adjusters, and others involved in defending medical malpractice cases. Extra features describe the timeline of a lawsuit, how a clinician can best benefit his or her own case, and impact statements by defendants describing their experiences.

For 40 years, CRICO has stood beside thousands of excellent physicians and nurses as they’ve faced accusations from patients and families. During the production of Sued: The Physician’s Journey, we have gained even more knowledge about the impact of the lawsuit experience. Our contributors describe a range of representative fears faced by all defendants—people dedicated to healing—including professional embarrassment, untoward publicity, credentialing ramifications, loss of licensure, reduced time with family and patients, and risks to personal assets. Very often a case can lead to significant self-doubt, in itself, a potential risk to the safety of future patients.

No matter how high your policy limits or our success rates are, malpractice suits deliver a difficult blow to defendants that can linger beyond the case resolution. We hope that defendants and other viewers can gain insight from Sued: The Physician’s Journey.


Sued: Distribution and Purpose

The primary recipients of Sued: The Physician’s Journey will be CRICO-insured clinicians named in malpractice claims and lawsuits. We hope viewing the film will establish realistic expectations regarding the lengthy litigation process and will allow defendants to hear how their peers have managed under similar circumstances. Insured MDs can download or view the full film through My CRICO.

Defendants themselves are often unaware of the impact that a lawsuit can have on their work, families, and their ability to be an effective defendant in their own malpractice case. CRICO provides confidential, professional counseling and other services to help physicians cope as their case is adjudicated.

If you have any questions regarding Sued: The Physician’s Journey or the resources CRICO offers to our defendants, please call our claims department: 617.450.5500, or your institution’s risk manager.

July 18, 2016
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