New Ways to Sue

Physicians have to be constantly aware that they could get sued when they treat patients.   And that drives up unnecessary tests.  Now there are other ways to sue doctors.  Lawyers are getting creative.   Here are some examples from an American Medical News article:

  • One unusual way that physicians can be sued is for administrative negligence. The claim can refer to a supervisor’s failure to review, develop or refine certain health care policies and procedures.
  • Another case highlights the little-discussed dangers of providing references for peers and employees. In 2011, a Louisiana anesthesiologist was forced to pay a medical center $8.2 million for negligent misrepresentation after he penned a positive letter about a former colleague.

As the article states, “doctors also should review their professional liability policies to check if medical decisions made outside the scope of the traditional physician-patient relationship are covered.”

Does this crap ever end?

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  5 comments for “New Ways to Sue

  1. big picture doc
    November 23, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    If physicians were really smart, they would all get together and refuse to be covered by liability insurance. No deep pocket, no sue.

    I went bare for years in private practice. It is legal. Only trouble is if you work for someone else, they insist that you are covered because they do not want to be the deep pocket. If we all did it together, it would work.

  2. Jon Pangia
    November 21, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Don’t forgot you can be sued by the doctor if you give a negative review. Reviews are subjective, otherwise one would merely request a physicians Quality Review and Improvement records from the hospital and be done with it. As such, everyone who gives a review is liable.

    Having said that, I happily give honest reviews of barely competent doctors I’ve either fired or celebrated their departure.

  3. Ricky
    November 21, 2012 at 9:29 am

    I know a colegue who was successfully sued because the specalist he referred to (very limited due to the insurance options) did something bad and the patient suffered a loss. Now you have to make sure the other docs are doing a good enough job because you sent them there (even if insurance forced you to!)

  4. Kathy Wire
    November 21, 2012 at 6:47 am

    Couple thoughts from the legal side :

    1. The “administrative” negligence piece is nothing new. If a doctor has an office that gets, for example, lab reports but has not put processes in place to make sure they are reviewed and followed up, that is a failure of care. He/she shouldn’t be free of any exposure just because the report fell in a crack between desks and the doctor never saw it. If the physician has reason to rely on someone else to develop and manage the process (e.g. a hospital managed practice), that would be a defense for the physician.

    On the second issue, truth is a defense. Organizations spend millions recruiting doctors, but often cannot get reports on their competency due to the protections provided to peer review data. They have to rely on references. Moral of the story: Speak what you know and only what you know. If he’s a great golf buddy but you either don’t know about his practice or wouldn’t let him treat your dog, don’t write the letter. Negligent misrepresentation requires negligence: you did something when you knew or should have known that it was wrong.

    • Prince Costanzza
      November 21, 2012 at 8:17 am

      Kathy Wire Said it perfectly and saved me from typing.
      They are all potential litigants.

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