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No one goes wakes up and says "I want to fuck up someone and get sued for it!"

But unfortunately, it happens. What I want to know is, if you lose, what can you expect to happen from that point on?

Reason I ask is, as Im going through two credentialing processes I have had to fill out multiple forms saying I have never been a part of any claims. All those forms make it seem like if you become a part of such a claim then your life is over. I would hope that is not the case, and I hope that others can provide some personal or known experiences

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It would be a horrible thing to go through. I never have been but my SP has. I was also his employer at one time (after the suit) and I had to fill out all those forms. But it made no difference. We had to explain his settlement and the case but he still could practice and his malpractice rates didn't go up.

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Generally a "yes" requires a long detailed explanation of what happened and what the outcome was. If you lost the case there will be lots of questions about why. Was it your fault in fact or did the case get settled just to make it go away?

I worked with a physician that had been sued 5 times never successfully. He owned his own practice so it didn't really change his life much. If he applied for a position with a large medical group they would probably give him a pass unless he was really needed.

Is it the end of your professional career? Certainly not. Is it going to cause you some headaches and limit your job opportunities? Yup.

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A friend of mine has been sued 3 times and although he has to report them each time, he is able to get employment in any setting he desires. he has worked in EM and primary care for almost 40 years. He told me about all 3 suits and although he "lost" all 3 these were things that could happen to anyone:

#1 gave haldol to an out of control psych pt in the ER. they had a dystonic rxn and sued because of that.

#2 saw a pt with an exam suspicious for appy in the days before CT. presented to surgeon as "I think this is an appy". surgeon examined pt, said it wasn't and pt went home and their appy ruptured with an extended recovery course.

#3 working in primary care in the 80s he used to do vasectomies. he did one and told the pt to use condoms until his samples were negative in 6 weeks or so. he didn't and had a kid and sued because he thought it was a done deal when he walked out of the office despite signing forms with the instructions on them.

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Some data points:

  • I've been sued, but was dismissed by the plaintiff and the entire suit was ultimately dropped.  I've been credentialed at 2 different facilities by 2 different employers.  I did have to provide explanations each time.  It was a bit tedious, but if you keep a file with all of the particulars you can do it quickly.  It didn't cause any problems, just a bit more work.
  • I've talked with several docs who've sat on credentialing committees.  They all say that they pretty much expect that anyone who has been practicing for awhile will have been sued and unless it's a pattern it's not a barrier.

So, build a file with the patient's name, date(s) of treatment, date of lawsuit filing and completion: whether dismissed, settled, etc, case #, what court heard it, the allegations, the reality, and the outcome, whether you had to place a report in the national provider databank.  Your lawyer can help you with all of this.

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I am looking at responses that suggest that this is to be expected and the PA will most likely be found innocent BUT what if there is a different outcome? What if the PA did not meet the Standard of Care? What if the PA abandoned his patient because he refused to see the patient in the hospital at 02:30 and there was a terrible outcome because of it? What if he is accused of an improper act with a patient? What if he (and I also refer to she) gave a large number of curbside consults? What if they sue because the PA was practicing out of the scope of practice of their supervising physician? That's a lot of "what if's" and I have seen them all in the lives of some unfortunate PAs who could no longer practice or could not get malpractice insurance or had tremendous hassles getting malpractice insurance which delayed their livelihood for five months. My job as a senior PA who cares for every PA in practice and who has served in leadership positions on a state and national level for over a quarter of a century is to sound a trumpet on the walls to ensure that every PA has heard this message lest they become lawyers because they cannot practice medicine.G"Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please." Mark Twain

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Unfortunately, it has happened to me. Very stressful process and still going through the motions. Not sure how this will play a part in credentialing or with malpractice premiums; just have to wait and see. I will say that Medical Malpractice Stress Syndrome is very real! Curious to know how others have coped. A PA support group for this would be awesome. 

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Is "standard of care" a hard and fast protocol or is it dependent on specialty, circumstance, etc.?  Until retiring after 32 years and 100,000's primary care patients, I was never sued but more than one night went to sleep wondering if what I did was correct.  It is a shame to be in a profession where you can be accused of doing something seemingly correct but a fast talking lawyer with a 40% return on a settlement can twist the reality of what happened into something sounding like you intentionally or were too dumb to get it right.  Never mind malpractice with tails, per occurrence etc.  The fact is that being sued is a devastating process, period!  IMHO

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I have to tell my one and only "I got sued story" because its so funny. I was named in a suit where I never saw the patient but another PA with the somewhat unusual last name did. Apparently the attorney didn't read very carefully and, because I was the senior PA and well known, missed the name difference in involving a part time PA. When I realized what happened the hospital attorney said he would get me dropped but I suggested we let it ride until the statutory time passed for adding anyone to the case...which we did.

We went to depositions and the patient's attorney asked me what my findings were when I examined the patient and I told him I never touched the patient. He got all agitated and waived the ER records in my face and yelled " Isn't that your name and signature on the chart!!!". I very calmly said ...no it isn't. It took him a minute and a few more questions to realize his error. I hope he got sued for legal malpractice.

It was the most fun I have had at work ever.

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I just finished with the one and only lawsuit of my career - going into my 27th year now. It was not normal and I don't wish anyone to ever have to undergo this kind of torture. 

The plaintiff filed suit at the 2 yr mark after their "event" (which is normal legal action) and then due to the plaintiff having a complete schmuck of an attorney - the next SIX YEARS were spent filing copious motions. They filed suit against the hospital, the nurses, the dining service, the custodial service in the hospital and named everyone they could think of. Then they let people go then they tried to put them back on the list.  NOT ONCE WAS I EVER DISPOSITIONED IN THE FIRST FIVE YEARS AFTER FILING.

For SIX YEARS I had to answer YES to that credentialing, renewal and privilege question. For SIX YEARS my attorney (from the practice I worked for at the time) had to write a letter about WHY this idiotic process was ongoing and didn't have a disposition.  My malpractice carriers quite literally laughed out loud at how stupid this whole thing was. 

It was humiliating, embarrassing, degrading and despite knowing I did absolutely nothing wrong in my care of this patient - I felt dirty, tainted and less than ok. I told no one about the lawsuit except about 3 trusted colleagues and friends. Every time I got a letter from the attorneys, my stomach balled up and I cried a lot. The wording lawyers use is just uncivil and inhumane. I had to read complete lies from the patient and his wife and BS from "trusted authorities in medicine". 

Then, three experts - 2 docs and a PA - reviewed my work in the case and I was told my documentation was stellar and I did nothing wrong. I felt about one ounce better. 

Twice I had to schedule to be gone for 2 weeks to actually go to trial and then have it rescheduled. The judge in the case was quite fed up with the plaintiff attorney and finally said no more. Schedule a date or drop the case. I was prepped by a trial psychologist - yep, Dr Bull but female and very intense.  

I actually had four attorneys - one representing my personal professional position, one representing the whole practice, one from the insurance company and one from the hospital - they all represented my best interests. 

Two weeks before the final trial date - I was finally asked to disposition. This schmuck attorney in a room with ALL FOUR of my attorneys - I have never heard "Objection to question" more in my life. Every question he posed was accusatory, presumptive and flat out ugly. I think I spoke a total of 20 words. When the attorney wouldn't quit with his ill formed questions, my attorney touched my elbow and said - "we're leaving". She escorted me out of the room and said I did great. Ok, thanks.

The morning of the trial - the plaintiff officially dropped me from the case. EIGHT YEARS after his orthopedic issue and SIX YEARS after filing - he drops me at the last minute BUT I still have to testify for the hospital, et al. 

I testified and answered his ill phrased questions or didn't answer them since they couldn't be answered - a lot of "what if this happened" BS - Again, I had FOUR LAWYERS in the courtroom with me. My time on the bench was about 15 minutes.

Then, it was suddenly over. Just done. Over.

I have a statement from the judge (copies of court records and citation of the law) stating I am not ever to be tried or questioned in the matter again - I was released. There is no evidence of malpractice, negligence or any wrongdoing. 

But, I STILL HAVE TO ANSWER THAT QUESTION "YES" FOR THE REST OF MY CAREER.  And I still have to send this final letter to everyone letting them know I did nothing wrong and have legal backing. 

My attorney has become a friend. We still chat. That is the best thing to come of all this.

I hope no one ever has to go through this - ever.

I do somewhat believe that if you work long enough and do the right thing enough - it is inevitable to peeve someone to the point of filing a legal claim. It seems to come with the territory. Our legal system has issues and wastes a lot of time and money. It never cost me more than a parking meter for this case - and some time off work. It was exhausting and psychological torture. It made me question myself and really not want to practice medicine for a long time. I would rather have flipped burgers than to go through those motions sometimes. 

I had immense support from my current bosses and complete backing on needing time off. That was priceless. My attorney was stellar and made the whole thing tolerable.  

It has left a mark - I wish it hadn't. 

THAT is my experience with lawsuits......

 

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That is a tough nut and echoes the experiences of most people I know who have been sued.  It doesn't seem to matter how good your care was or your documentation or the organizational support....it leaves you feeling dirty and bruised.

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43 minutes ago, Reality Check 2 said:

I just finished with the one and only lawsuit of my career - going into my 27th year now

THAT is my experience with lawsuits......

 

Thank you for posting a reply and Im sure it not only must have taken the time to type that up but it sounds like it was a very emotional thing for you.

If I could ask, the personal attorney that you used was it assigned by the hospital or did you find them on your own? did you have to pay them? what made you get a personal attorney and Not Just Go With the 3 that the hospital provided? 

Thanks again for taking the time to post that

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I had a good friend, MD, who was sued after a baby he delivered had CP (no mistakes in the delivery). He arrived at the courthouse and the woman suing him came running up, gave him a big tearful hug and said, "Please don't take this personal Dr. J, I still want you to be my doctor because you're the best. But I need the money to help raise my CP baby and this was the easiest way to get the money I need."

He told her it WAS personal because his reputation is being slandered. 

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Just now, jmj11 said:

I had a good friend, MD, who was sued after a baby he delivered had CP (no mistakes in the delivery). He arrived at the courthouse and the woman suing him came running up, gave him a big tearful hug and said, "Please don't take this personal Dr. J, I still want you to be my doctor because you're the best. But I need the money to help raise my CP baby and this was the easiest way to get the money I need."

He told her it WAS personal because his reputation is being slandered. 

That's insane! I've heard that Canada implemented a law stating that the losing party in a medical malpractice suit is required to pay for the other party's legal expenses in addition to their own. Supposedly the number of medical malpractice suits have dropped significantly since this began. Not sure if it's true but sure sounds like a good idea to me. 

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Thank you Scott and Reality check and all those that have responded. Yes, it happens and Yes, all involved feel as if they were sexually assaulted or molested for lack oif a better analogy. the initial words in the subeoa make you feel as if you have committed a crime for breathing, you definitely need a lawyer to whom you can speak with frequently, if need be and forever you will be almost mandated to expain the outcome of this litigation against you. I have had two of these situations, both of which were dropped and one where at the deposition my previous attorney from a hospital( before I used CM&F) came to the deposition without my records and with the heavy smell of alcohol on his breath. fellow PAs, we deserve better which is why I have a personal liability insurance company.

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I did not pick a private attorney. The group assigned one attorney per provider and then one for the corporate group. I did not pick her but got lucky - she is a rockstar.

I paid zero legal fees. Had to use some time off from work but zero money.

If I had remained a defendant, the insurance carrier would have reimbursed me $1000 per day in court. I couldn’t take that much time off without pay or my benefits would have lapsed. It is a screwed situation. I would have lost 10 days PTO or more but made $10K from the insurance if the trial only lasted 2 weeks. Not worth it. No idea what the tax issue would have been with that either. 

Thankfully, I got dropped and only missed 3 days, I think. 

Either way - it sucked.

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11 hours ago, Reality Check 2 said:

It was exhausting and psychological torture. It made me question myself and really not want to practice medicine for a long time. I would rather have flipped burgers than to go through those motions sometimes. 

 

Thank you for sharing your story. I'm so sorry you had to go through it for so long! Thats insane. I can fully understand how emotionally exhausting it can be.  How did you get past feeling like quitting medicine? That's all i think about is quitting. My confidence has been shot and I'm working on rebuilding it but its not easy. 

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Just about the time you have convinced yourself that medicine sucks and is not worth it - something nice happens.

You catch a weird diagnosis or get someone the right care and make their day. Your boss tells you that you rock and a patient complimented your work and care. You ace a diagnosis and make a difference for a patient. 

Mine was a combo of all the above. Current boss - a doctor - completely unrelated to this old case - 100% supportive and never blinked when I had to deal with this and take time away.  Got a thank you note from a veteran for taking the time to explain something that someone should have done years ago. 

At some point, it all comes back together and you remember why you got into this in the first place. 

The nasty folks take up a lot of energy and are sadly easier to remember - the whole squeaky wheel thing. 

The folks you help day in and day out are the ones you have to keep on the front burner - they remind you how smart you are and how good you can be. You have to hold onto those or the others will suck the life out of you.

Then go home and hug your kids and your pets and take deep breaths.

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11 minutes ago, Reality Check 2 said:

Just about the time you have convinced yourself that medicine sucks and is not worth it - something nice happens.

You catch a weird diagnosis or get someone the right care and make their day. Your boss tells you that you rock and a patient complimented your work and care. You ace a diagnosis and make a difference for a patient. 

Mine was a combo of all the above. Current boss - a doctor - completely unrelated to this old case - 100% supportive and never blinked when I had to deal with this and take time away.  Got a thank you note from a veteran for taking the time to explain something that someone should have done years ago. 

At some point, it all comes back together and you remember why you got into this in the first place. 

The nasty folks take up a lot of energy and are sadly easier to remember - the whole squeaky wheel thing. 

The folks you help day in and day out are the ones you have to keep on the front burner - they remind you how smart you are and how good you can be. You have to hold onto those or the others will suck the life out of you.

Then go home and hug your kids and your pets and take deep breaths.

Thank you ?

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These stories are everything that is wrong with medicine.  Emotional, physical, financial and occupational punishment all for trying to help people.  Awful.

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Hi Tom:

Sorry that I am so late in responding to your comment as I was at a very cold wedding spread out over almost a mile in NY Cattskills. SOC deviates depending on the location. That obviously means that there is a different SOC on Long Island, than NYC and then Houston, Tx.

As you mention, it's the malpractice attorney that gets the gravy and they are ruthless in their pursuit of money, not alleviating the patients suffering. This is the dirty reality of what we face in the trenches. bob

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1 hour ago, Cideous said:

These stories are everything that is wrong with medicine.  Emotional, physical, financial and occupational punishment all for trying to help people.  Awful.

You hit the nail on the head. 

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Hi Pennylv

This is the second time that I am writing for your post, the first one as well as the others, because it was such a heart breaking note and I could physically feel your pain. I first read your first post at 2 AM when on the day you sent it and it convinced me that I have not wasted my time on this subject because there are people like you out there. There is nothing like a litigation to send you into a spiraling tail spin that can devastate your career. Just reading the blue subpoena is enough to make you think you are public enemy number one. They are cruel and painful and elicit responses like yours.

I love your comment of (MMSS) Medical Malpractice Stress Syndrome and agree that it is very much like the PTSD that I have diagnosed almost a thousand times on servicemen sand women returning from the Middle East. and yes, there should be a support group and I will make it my mission to use my contacts and see if one exists as it is needed. I felt the same when I had my first patient die in a hospital while I was working "House" at night and the patient had EMD. I did an EKG and sent it to the ICU physician who came running to the floor, started examining the patient and then the patient went into full arrest. I was convinced that I had missed something or could have performed an intervention and read the remainder of that horrible night and questioned myself for six weeks. One day while in the OR, a friend of mine who was an anesthesiologist said: "Bob, you need to get over it and if it's too hot in the kitchen, get out." He shook me and I was determined to look at the lives I saved rather than the one that fate delivered me that night.

I know you are not a novice and you have a history of positive results and "Reality Check" mentioned those whom you found an esoteric disease or made a major difference in their lives. Think on these things, on the positives, on your successes and place one foot in front of the other and continue in the practice that you have chosen. There will be many beautiful sunsets and it sure beats changing professions and becoming an undertaker or even worse, a lawyer. I am available to encourage you whenever you wish at 631-252-1876. Good luck and god bless you on your decision.

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39 minutes ago, surgblumm said:

Hi Pennylv

This is the second time that I am writing for your post, the first one as well as the others, because it was such a heart breaking note and I could physically feel your pain. I first read your first post at 2 AM when on the day you sent it and it convinced me that I have not wasted my time on this subject because there are people like you out there. There is nothing like a litigation to send you into a spiraling tail spin that can devastate your career. Just reading the blue subpoena is enough to make you think you are public enemy number one. They are cruel and painful and elicit responses like yours.

I love your comment of (MMSS) Medical Malpractice Stress Syndrome and agree that it is very much like the PTSD that I have diagnosed almost a thousand times on servicemen sand women returning from the Middle East. and yes, there should be a support group and I will make it my mission to use my contacts and see if one exists as it is needed. I felt the same when I had my first patient die in a hospital while I was working "House" at night and the patient had EMD. I did an EKG and sent it to the ICU physician who came running to the floor, started examining the patient and then the patient went into full arrest. I was convinced that I had missed something or could have performed an intervention and read the remainder of that horrible night and questioned myself for six weeks. One day while in the OR, a friend of mine who was an anesthesiologist said: "Bob, you need to get over it and if it's too hot in the kitchen, get out." He shook me and I was determined to look at the lives I saved rather than the one that fate delivered me that night.

I know you are not a novice and you have a history of positive results and "Reality Check" mentioned those whom you found an esoteric disease or made a major difference in their lives. Think on these things, on the positives, on your successes and place one foot in front of the other and continue in the practice that you have chosen. There will be many beautiful sunsets and it sure beats changing professions and becoming an undertaker or even worse, a lawyer. I am available to encourage you whenever you wish at 631-252-1876. Good luck and god bless you on your decision.

Thank you so much for your response. I was too afraid and embarrassed to even post but I felt like others should know some of us have been through the same and are here for support. 

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