Legal Nurse Consultant Article on Being Served a Lawsuite

No matter how well a healthcare professional trains, studies and prepares, there is always a chance for a malpractice suite against them.  Some may be well deserving, but many others may be victims of vindictive or confused individuals.   So despite, the years of study, the high student loans incurred and hard work building a practice, one must always be prepared for the inevitable malpractice.  This is why healthcare professionals have such high malpractice insurance rates and why costs are so high everywhere.   A healthcare professional must always be ready.  Any patient could be the next case against oneself.

The reality is throughout a 40 year career, most physicians spend 11 percent or 50.7 months of their time resolving malpractice cases.  In fact, by age 65, low risk practices have a 75 percent chance of litigation against them, while high risk practices have a 99 percent chance.  With these numbers, it is imperative to be prepared and to have an understanding how the malpractice process works.

Being served a lawsuit can be very stressful. It is important to be prepared for such things. Please also review AIHCP’s Legal Nurse Consulting Program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals


If served the dreaded letter of suite against one’s practice, it may seem unnerving.  One may question what one did or did not do, or wonder how this could ever happen.  Good physicians may feel hurt or betrayed or misunderstood.   While these feelings are natural, it is important to follow the process of defense.  One’s reputation and practice is on the line and one needs to protect this at all costs.

The first step is to contact one’s medical malpractice carrier.  This should be done immediately.  Within this structure, is yourself, the claim professional and your defense attorney.

The second step is to build a defense.  Building the defense is key and one might be surprised to discover that a malpractice attorney already has some insight into what is occurring.  It is important to supply the defense attorney with all the necessary information on the case, the patient and notes regarding the case.

Third, realize that the case will take time.  Usually cases can last anywhere from 2 to 5 years.  Furthermore, the case probably is originating from a patient or service rendered a few years prior.  There will be periods of activity but also periods of inactivity, so remain calm and continue to supply excellent care to your patients.  Rest assured, your malpractice attorney is on top of things.  If need be, contact him or her if questions or worries arise.

Fourth, it is important to understand the strategy of the plaintiff.  You will not be able to explain to them what occurred and those explanations are best left for trial.  It is important to not only know one’s own strategies but also the other side’s strategies.  Be well versed on their own experts and opinions on procedure.  This will heighten your own defense.

Fifth, become fully engaged in your own defense.  It is critical to study your own dispositions, possible questions and expertise on procedure.  Coaching may be needed.  Coaches can help one better at trial during disposition.  Stress Management may also be necessary.  It is a very stressful period and it is important to remain calm prior and during trial.

Ultimately, malpractice cases eventually occur and one needs to be prepared when they do.  By being calm, knowledgeable, and professional throughout the process, one can overcome most cases that have no basis or legal ground.   One can protect oneself by keeping good records, following good standards and by giving the best care one can possibly provide.  Communication and good social interaction with patients is key in forming good bonds with patient and caregiver and this can go a long way in preventing foolish and unnecessary claims from occurring.  Bedside manner does go a long way, especially for a good physician with good skills.  Individuals are more receptive to physicians who take time to talk and build a friendship.  Good doctors who explain and care can limit unnecessary confusion and bitterness for something that is not their fault.




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The Doctor’s Company, “You’ve Been Served: Lawsuit Survival Tips for Physicians”.  Please click here