By Thomas Benzoni, DO, FACEP
I approach the issue of litigation and the stress it causes fundamentally differently. Basically, to the lawyer, it is about the money. All else follows.
Here’s the proof: Take out the money involved and the lawsuit goes away. Extensive research has shown that for the same injury, if it is a poor defendant, no one will take the suit. There is no Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, or charity care in the legal field.
However, just because you’re not paranoid doesn't mean no one is out to get you.
Why are we instructed not to talk to the patient when threatened? Because both sides stand to lose money! The defense doesn't want legal reform—they make more money than the plaintiff. (This fact may not be well known, but think it through and run the math.)
So, because it is about the money, it really isn't about you. Because you have insurance, only very rarely are the physician's house and car at risk. Almost always, his or her reputation is what's at risk, and from that reputation flows the money.
When you've been sued, you have to declare this the rest of your career. Where else in civil law does this occur? Nowhere. Where does this occur? Criminal law, but only if convicted. So having a lawsuit filed is the same as losing a criminal case. No wonder physicians react negatively.
Solutions: Externalize the hurt. Remember, it's not about you, it's about the money. And you hold the key to your insurance company's lockbox.