There are no winners in medical malpractice cases.
Patients, of course, suffer the most. But doctors aren’t spared either. It’s been written previously that doctors suffer significant emotional turmoil after being sued, and in fact, a good percentage even contemplate suicide.
In a recent New York Times essay, physician Joan Savitsky talks about her own ordeal. She discusses how being sued affected not only her, but other patients as well:
If [a medical mistake] happens, you have to integrate the experience, but for a while you lose your bearings. It is discombobulating. When this is followed by litigation, the effect can be paralyzing. And the lawsuit felt like an assault. Being sued, even with assurances that “it’s nothing personal” and that my insurance would most likely cover any settlement, was in fact deeply personal. The experience was devastating.
And when you consider that most malpractice trials take years to resolve, not only do injured patients’ families have to wait, the doctor suffers during that time as well.
Our medical malpractice system does injured patients a disservice, and does little to fairly compensate them. Less publicized is how it affects doctors.
Read the essay to get a small taste of its impact.