Malpractice Consult

By Johnson, Lee J. | Medical Economics, October 5, 1998 | Go to article overview

Malpractice Consult


Johnson, Lee J., Medical Economics


Don't blab about your malpractice suit

Ql I've been sued and would like to talk about my case to colleagues who could provide some advice and needed sympathy. My wife is a great source of support, but she can't help with the medical issues. My lawyer has warned me not to discuss the case with anyone but him, but he's cold and inaccessible.

Discussions with friends or colleagues are dangerous. There's probably no harm in telling a friend how you feel about being sued, but don't give specifics of the case. The plaintiff's attorney will surely ask if you've discussed the case with anyone, and you'll be obliged to answer. If the answer is Yes, these people could be subpoenaed to testify about what you said. The plaintiff's attorney could try to show that your comments to friends and colleagues differed from your testimony, or that you violated the patient's confidentiality.

Discussions with family members can also be problematic. A spouse cannot be compelled to testify against you, but your children or parents might be. (Witness the dispute regarding the grand jury testimony of Monica Lewinsky's mother.)

Medical societies in some states provide counseling for physicians involved in lawsuits, and these sessions are considered privileged. So are discussions with your defense attorney and the insurance investigators preparing your case.

Finally, you might consult a psychiatrist. Those conversations are protected by the physician-patient privilege.

Double whammy: sued for gender bias and malpractice

QA patient claims that I didn't perform certain tests that might have led to an earlier diagnosis of her problem. She also alleges that I would have provided more thorough treatment to a male patient. So now she is suing me for sexual discrimination as well as malpractice. Will a court allow this case to proceed?

The gender-bias complaint is likely to be dismissed, but the malpractice claim may go to trial.

That's what happened in a recent New York case similar to the situation you describe. …

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Malpractice Consult
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