Nearly half of all radiologists have been sued at least once, according to an article published in the October 2012 issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology. Having been on the credentials committee at several hospitals for the last 15 years, I have seen many errors which could have been easily prevented. Here are the top seven Do's and Don'ts if you have the misfortune of getting into a medical-legal matter.
1. DO NOT discuss the case with anyone except your attorney.
2. DO NOT alter the medical record.
3. Although tempting, DO NOT review the medical record or the images without your attorney present. If you look at any of the medical record or images, it is arguably discoverable in deposition and the courtroom and may be used against you. Reviewing the images with your attorney is likely protected by the attorney-client privilege and not discoverable by the attorney suing you.
4. If you get a 90 day letter with intent to sue, DO contact your insurance provider immediately. Often, they can obtain radiology or other experts and get their legal team to have the case dropped before it ever gets filed in court.
5. If a case does get filed in court, DO inform all the hospitals' medical staff services offices where you have privileges. It varies at different hospitals, but in general if you inform them within 30 days you will be safe. DO NOT wait until reappointment time to inform the hospitals. Most hospitals have an obligation to report any pending suits, settlements, or judgments in their bylaws.
Although tempting, DO NOT review the
images without your attorney present.
6. If you are applying for new hospital privileges, or are up for reappointment, make sure you answer the question about any pending suits, settlements, or judgments correctly. DO NOT just blindly sign the form without checking it carefully, especially if someone else has filled it out for you. A false statement on the application is your responsibility and has very serious consequences such as revocation of privileges or inability to obtain privileges. These events may also be reportable to the Medical Board of your state.
7. If you have a settlement or judgment against you, DO inform all the hospitals where you have privileges within 30 days. Again, don't wait until reappointment time to inform the hospitals.
The good news is up to 80% of medical malpractice suits are dropped or dismissed without payment. Only approximately 15% are settled, and of the 5% that make it to court, the defendant prevails 80-90% of the time. Make it easier to defend yourself and carry the day by following the common sense tips in this article.
Kevin Rice, MD is the Chief of Staff and the Chair of the Radiology at Valley Presbyterian Hospital in Los Angeles, California and is a Radiologist with Renaissance Imaging Medical Associates. Dr. Rice has made several media appearances as part of his ongoing commitment to public education. Dr. Rice's passion for state of the art radiology and teaching includes acting as a guest lecturer at UCLA. In 2015 Dr. Rice founded Global Radiology CME to provide innovative radiology education at exciting international destinations, with the world's foremost authorities in their field. In 2016, Dr. Rice was nominated and became a semifinalist for a "Minnie" award for the Most Effective Radiology Educator.
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All posts by Kevin M. Rice, MD
Disclaimer: Kevin Rice, MD is not an attorney and the above should not be construed as legal advice. Check with your own attorney and insurance provider if you have any legal matters.
Courtroom gavel photo courtesy of: https://www.flickr.com/photos/joegratz/117048243/
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