|Malpractice and Doctors' Time|
Can you say, “Duh!”? We’ve known that for a long time! These cases don't necessarily consume all his or her time, but it lurks about in the corners of the physician’s mind, both conscious and unconscious.
The financial costs aren’t even measurable. Consider the ways that today’s flood of litigation imposes costs on an already struggling system. To name just the big, obvious ones:
- Legal costs, legal-system resources, and breathtaking jury awards;
- Six-digit annual malpractice premiums;
- Loss of physician (and support staff) productivity; and
- Defensive medicine’s redundant and unnecessary tests and procedures.
We’ve become a real fan of properly executed “disclosure and apology” programs. Other scientific studies show tremendous positive impact on the medicolegal systems where such programs have been implemented. The beauty of disclosure and apology programs is that they bring providers and patients to the same side of the table. The tort system makes them enemies—a disclosure/ apology system can make them allies.
Resolved claims take less time—but still a long time. After a suit is filed, it takes from 16 to 21 months to come to a conclusion. The litigation process can actually be more distressing for the doctors than the potential financial damages. During adjudication, the stress can be nearly overwhelming, as physicians deal with a loss of reputation and the loss of time spent dealing with the claim instead of practicing medicine.