Ignoring patient questions and sensitivities may come at a high price.
On October 23, 2018, Medscape.com,
a popular website for those interested in law-medicine developments, ran an article entitled, "An ME/Attorney Reveals: 5 Top Reasons Patients Sue Doctors," by Lee S. Goldsmith, MD, LLB. Goldsmith's New York City law firm has represented both plaintiffs and defendants for over 30 years. Referrals to Goldsmith's law firm average over 40 per month from those who wish to initiate a lawsuit. However, of those 40 potential malpractice suits, there may be only one viable case.
In his practice, Goldsmith has observed five major reasons he receives over 40 medical malpractice referrals a month.
1. Patients Seek Answers that Physicians Don't Give:
When the unexpected happens, families want answers. Goldsmith states: "A patient who doesn't receive answers from you will seek information elsewhere. If we give information to your patient, then I have a client I can represent."
2. Patients have Billing Disputes:
If a family cannot pay the medical bills and they need relief in a billing dispute, they are likely to get an attorney. A better response is to have a staff person call the family, discuss the bill, and see if there is a compromise, such as a payment plan to avoid collection.
3. Patients feel that important details are missing when the unexpected happens:
Goldsmith recommends: "Don't lie to your patients; there are ways to explain the events without admitting liability. Spend the extra 5 minutes and let the family express their anguish. A good response might be: "We tried our best, the team worked well together, but in this case we were not successful. I'm sorry."
4. Patients are suing out of Desperation:
A medical injury can devastate a family financially and emotionally. Assistance with a payment plan can create a path to financial balance and, a referral to counseling services maybe helpful for coping with the impact of illness on the patient and family.
5. Patients react to the Physician's actions:
Goldsmith shares the story of a former client who was sued by a physician for libel because she called him a "butcher" in front of other patients. The physician sued and the former client counter sued. The lawsuit was eventually settled with the client receiving $2 million.