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Legalities Suck: How I Learned that Doctors Are Vulnerable

An anonymous first-hand account of a physician that comes face-to-face with a lawsuit.

April 11, 2023

I’m a cardiologist. I dedicated my life to saving others.

I spent countless hours studying and training to ensure that I can provide the best possible care to my patients.

So when I received the news that I was being named in a lawsuit, I was shocked and devastated.

I had done everything in my power to help the patient in question.

I had followed all the proper procedures and protocols, and I had provided the best possible care.

Yet, here I was, being accused of wrongdoing.

I spent countless hours studying and training to ensure that I can provide the best possible care to my patients.

 

When I received the news that I was being named in a lawsuit, I was shocked and devastated. Share on X

 

It’s a common misconception that doctors are infallible. We are human, and we make mistakes. I know this just as much as everyone else.

However, in this case, I knew that I had done everything (that was humanly possible) right.

I had followed all the guidelines and protocols, and had provided the best possible care to the patient who ended up suing me.

I felt helpless.

Here I was, doctor of the year, for several years running, and I was being named in a suit.

I knew that the legal system could be unforgiving, and I was worried about the impact that this lawsuit would have on my career and reputation.

Why are we so vulnerable, as doctors?

Why can anyone essentially say anything about us?

Why are patients protected by HIPAA, and doctors not protected by anything at all?

Did you know that, according to the AMA, 1 in 3 physicians has been sued by age 55, and that 1 in 2 physicians are hit with a suit in general? It’s true. Take a look at the stats here, in an article from 2018.

The whole thing felt like I was being punished. Took me back, in fact, to grade school days.

 

“Being named in a lawsuit felt like I was being punished. Took me back, in fact, to grade school days.”

 

I’ll fast forward to the end.

In my case, I was lucky. My lawsuit ended up being dismissed, and I was cleared of wrongdoing.

But the experience left a lasting effect on me. Its impact will stay with me forever.

You can’t really get over an experience like that. Believe me, it’s really, really hard.

The situation I had been in made me realize that, as doctors, we’re not only responsible for the health and well-being of our patients, but are also extremely vulnerable to the legal system.

It’s a sobering thought, and one that I will carry with me for the rest of my career.

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. For more information, or to submit your own opinion, please see our submission guidelines or email opmed@doximity.com. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Find out what we’re looking for here and submit your writing, or send us a pitch.

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Submit your own article now here.

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