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Being Sued: Just Part of Being a Doctor in the U.S.

The majority of U.S physicians, over 60 percent of American doctors, get sued at some point in their career. Facing a lawsuit can understandably take a heavy toll on doctors: not only can the process be lengthy and demanding, but it can take away a doctor’s self confidence.

A physician from the US specializing in Internal Medicine faced this complicated and distressing predicament for the first time in a 15-year career and turned to Sermo for help. Every commenting physician expressed empathy and offered their advice and support to their fellow doctor:

“SO sorry! Yes, deep breaths and meet with your attorney and follow what they say. It may be a big nothing. Or you could end up in court but many juries are on the doctor’s side. Just remember – you WILL get through this. It does not mean that you are a bad doctor!!! Chin up and take care of yourself.” – Internal Medicine

“Many of us have survived this. It is not about you, you are not a bad doc, it is just business.” – General Surgery

“From a surgeon standpoint, one lawsuit in 15 years would be a stellar percentage, and one of the best in our field. So don’t overthink the concerns and consequences of being named in litigation. It may increase your premiums to a degree, but except in very egregious circumstances it will not besmirch your career, or your standing with the state medical board or your hospital Board of Trustees.” – General Surgery

 “Huge percentage of good docs get sued – usually for something that should not have caused a lawsuit… Errors can only be minimized and learned from, not avoided entirely… We often have lots of cognitive and emotional responses [to being sued] since we are normally functioning human beings. You may appropriately experience anger, self-doubt, fear – insomnia, irritability, flight response… this is a normal stress response.” – Psychiatry

 “Just be prepared to be frustrated and infuriated, but know that you are not alone.” – Family Medicine

“Any doctor can be sued for even petty reasons. Doesn’t mean you’re a bad doctor – it comes with the territory.” – Family Medicine

“Welcome to the club. The majority of practitioners in my specialty have been through this. But just keep it in perspective. It’s almost the price of doing business today in medicine.” – Obstetrics & Gynecology 

“My attorney once gave me great advice, ‘Consider this as just part of your job.’ Try as best you can to approach systematically as you would any problem, without a bunch of emotion and try not to take it home with you. There is almost no fairness or justice in a lawsuit. Get ready for a long drawn out affair. Listen to your lawyer.” – Internal medicine 

“What you might get from Sermo is advice and support in letting this be a bad day and not a career changer. It happens.” – Psychiatry

Are you a physician? Join Sermo to meet other doctors who will support you during hard times!