For some patients, seeing a physician instills fear. By many recent accounts, being a physician is also scary.

After trying to escape the shackles of student loans, dispelling the curse of electronic health records, and avoiding the horrors of payor paperwork, you still have to douse the flames of professional burnout. But, even then, you cannot relax and enjoy your work because you are constantly haunted by the dread that sweet Mrs. Jekyll, the patient in Room 3, will someday become sinister plaintiff Hyde, and sue you for malpractice.

Little wonder that 9 of 10 surveyed physicians were unwilling to recommend health care as a profession.

But, then again, perhaps some of that fear mongering is shrouded in dry ice fog and viewed through one-way mirrors. Not everyone is disgruntled or running scared. In fact, more people are running toward health care as a profession than are running away.

  • Medical school applications are at an all-time high, likewise for nurse practitioners and physician assistants.
  • Physicians, trailing only nurses, are the second most respected professionals in the United States.
  • EHRs offer more benefits than detriments, and overall health information technology (including smart phones) is turning health care into one of the most tech savvy professions in the world.
  • Team-based care, allowing more providers the chance to work at the tops of their licenses, is replacing go-it-alone care as the norm.
  • The ongoing problem of physician burnout is increasingly inspiring efforts to help physicians avoid it.
  • Each year, about eight percent of physicians—nationally across all specialties—are likely to be named in a malpractice case (for CRICO-insured physicians, the annual rate is considerably below that mark).

Understanding the actual likelihood of being sued for malpractice—and what you can do to mitigate the key risk to your practice—is much more likely to benefit you and your patients than fearing that every patient is a potential lawsuit. And, sinceyou probably shouldn’t be handing out candy to your patients this Halloween, remember that the best treat for them is that you dress up as a real health care provider every day.

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