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Three essential things to do if accused of medical malpractice

Facing an accusation of medical malpractice is both frightening and overwhelming. It often comes out of nowhere and puts everything medical professionals have built at risk, including their reputation. Such an accusation is something that no medical professional wants to endure in their career--much less their lifetime. 

However, it is critical for any medical professional to remember that an accusation is not the end of the road. There are measures medical professionals can take to protect themselves and their licenses.

1. Physicians should be cautious of who they speak to

After receiving an accusation of medical malpractice, it is critical for medical professionals to be careful who they speak to as well as what they discuss. For instance, do not discuss the accusation or the investigation with anyone, especially:

  • Colleagues
  • Other medical staff
  • The plaintiff or their attorney

Discussing any aspect of the case with an outside party could result in them being called to testify, and even turn evidence against the physician.

However, it is alright--and probably healthy--for physicians facing an accusation to discuss how they are feeling. Talking about one's stress or fear with trusted loved ones can help medical professionals reduce their stress in this situation.

2. Do not touch any records, and follow proper record procedures

Many professionals might want to search through their records to better understand the accusations against them. Or even better, to prove them wrong. However, it is in their best interest not to touch their records or alter them in any way.

It may be helpful to gather their records together to have evidence readily available, but it is essential to leave all patient records and files as they were and adhere to proper record policies.

3. Report an accusation to the insurance carrier as soon as possible

Complaints and lawsuits always come with deadlines to meet. And that is why it is essential for physicians to report any complaints against them to their insurance carrier promptly. This gives the insurance carrier time to prepare for the case and provide the coverage that professionals need.

It also demonstrates that medical professionals are willing to cooperate with the investigation. Cooperating can be a significant challenge, and possibly the last thing that physicians want to do.

However, cooperation--within reason--is usually in a medical professional's best interest to protect their rights.

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