The Goodwill Value of Your Practice

By Forster, Jeff | Medical Economics, October 5, 1998 | Go to article overview

The Goodwill Value of Your Practice


Forster, Jeff, Medical Economics


Which doctors are most likely to be sued for malpractice? First and foremost, according to the American Medical Association's Law Department, are those who occasionally clash with their patients.

"An element. . . present in all professional liability claims is dissatisfaction arising out of physician-patient relations," the AMA report said. "Many of the cases [that] . . . involved substandard medical treatment would probably not have matured into claims had it not been for some other cause of friction ...."

Okay, so the report was issued-and reported in this magazine-in 1957. The best truths are the old truths, and this one hasn't changed much over the years.

The notion that people are less likely to sue someone they know is especially relevant today, when the time squeeze of managed care makes it more difficult than ever to be civil, let alone friendly, in a busy office practice. And it's timely, considering that primary-care doctors are moving into the litigation crosshairs (see "Malpractice Danger Zones," our Aug. 24 cover story).

My theory is that beneath the skin of the most irritable doctor beats the heart of one who desires to be benevolent and reassuring. In a recent informal poll among readers of our Orthopedic Surgery Edition, a surprising number said that the single best thing they could do to improve the operation of their office was to be more courteous and friendly to patients.

We regularly publish articles about physicians who do well by doing good. …

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