What Steps Should Hospitals Take to Fight Malpractice Suits?
Written by Adam Groff
Fighting a Malpractice Suit
It's unfortunate, but medical malpractice lawsuits occur everyday, so it's important for hospitals to understand the ramifications.
Many hospitals, clinics, and independent practices lose credibility over malpractice cases, which is why it's so crucial that the proper steps are taken in order to avoid a malpractice lawsuit turning into a practice-ending situation.
So, with medical mishaps in mind, here are just a few steps hospitals can take in the fight against malpractice lawsuits:
Putting Things Into Perspective: Malpractice Statistics
According to a recent survey by the American Medical Association, more than 40% of working physicians have experienced malpractice lawsuits during their careers. Whether wrongful or not, that's a sobering statistic for anyone associated with the field of medicine.
Likewise, when it comes to the financial consequences of malpractice lawsuits, the average claim costs physicians and hospitals $25,000 according to a study done by U.S. News and World Report. With the staggering costs involved, the medical world has no choice but to fight claims.
Steps to Take When Fighting a Claim
When a malpractice lawsuit does occur, there are certain steps to follow in order for the claim not to get out of hand:
* Contact Insurance Carriers - The first step hospitals and physicians should to take with any malpractice lawsuit is to contact their malpractice insurance provider immediately.
In addition, it's wise not to speak informally to the plaintiff's attorney if the attorney contacts the hospital directly. In other words, hospitals should let their insurance carriers handle the legalities.
* Gather Records - Once the hospital's insurance carrier provides an attorney, that attorney will likely want all medical records of the patient in question. So, it's important for hospitals and physicians to assemble all available medical records for use in the lawsuit.
* Certificates of Merit - Due to the high number of frivolous lawsuits, many states require that the plaintiff have a certificate of merit accompanying their claim. If a certificate is not provided, the hospital should inquire as to whether or not one is necessary before further delving into the case.
* Searching for Past Claims - Many malpractice lawsuits involve wrongful claims from patients with existing injuries or a history of malpractice cases. Because of this, the hospital should ensure that the attorney handling the case is thoroughly researching the plaintiff's medical history for incriminating information.
* Prepare a Deposition - Hospitals and physicians must prepare an accurate and thorough deposition, or pretrial testimony, in order to give the most honest account of the claim. A deposition that's full of holes will surely end up in a lost case.
* Don't Settle - Considering many malpractice lawsuits are dropped, dismissed, or withdrawn before the trial even takes place, hospitals that settle too early regret the decision because it often times makes the hospital and physician look like the guilty party.
By following the steps above, hospitals and medical professionals have a fighting chance when it comes to malpractice lawsuits.
About the Author
Adam Groff is a freelance writer and creator of content. He writes on a variety of topics including personal health, how to accept credit cards online, and home improvement.