Planktonmd

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Today there was a field trip of about 15 kids visiting our OR and since I am the one with the biggest mouth I was chosen to talk to them about anesthesiology.
So, I do my thing and tell them all the cool things I know about our business, then I ask them if they had any questions, and this funny looking 10 Y/O kid raises his hand and says this:
So, how frequently do you get sued as an anesthesiologist?
I was taken by surprise because honestly, the last thing I was expecting is having to discuss malpractice litigation with these kids.
What would you have said?
 

maceo

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This is the most important factor IMHO
i think it has less to do with interpersonal skills and more to do with how many lawyers that are in your town, tort reform status of your state and details of the case.

If you are involved in a bad OB case neonatal death, maternal death or aspiration nerve damage, pdph , it dont matter how nice you are ... chances are high you will get sued

If you involved in anything.. i mean anything untowards that happens to a child or infant in the OR. Chances are HIGH you will be sued doesnt matter how nice of a guy you are.

so there you have it.

Luck has a lot to do with it. If you are doing all the F***ed up cases in the OR there is a lot of liability there.
 

Licoricestick

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This is the most important factor IMHO
And what research there is in this area supports that.

[FONT=Arial, Helvetica]Angered patients and the medical profession.: [FONT=Arial, Helvetica]Changing from "doctor's orders" to "patient's choice".
[SIZE=-1]MJA 1999; 170: 576-577[/SIZE]


Despite evidence to the contrary from the Harvard Medical Practice Study, the belief remains prevalent that most litigation results from gross errors in medical diagnosis and treatment, and that these are best minimised through clinical quality control. While clinical errors are usually involved, the likely precipitant is more likely to be a communication error. It is not sufficient for a doctor to reach a conclusion regarding diagnosis and optimal treatment. This must be conveyed to the patient and then skill exercised to motivate the patient to adopt that same point of view. The patient is the one with the problem and it is for the patient to decide, on the basis of the information provided, whether or not to take the doctor's advice. It is no longer "doctor's orders", it is "patient's choice". Furthermore, "informed refusal" is as important as "informed consent". How much non-compliance is uninformed refusal?
The results of the Harvard Medical Practice Study (HMPS)[SIZE=-1]3 [/SIZE]not only suggested that if you are sued you are unlikely to have been negligent, but also that if you are negligent you are unlikely to have been sued! In about 300 of the 30 000 New York hospital records reviewed, it was assessed that an adverse outcome had resulted from avoidable negligence -- but in only about one in eight of these had a claim for compensation been made. Conversely, of all the legal actions commenced against the surveyed hospitals in that period, only about a third involved one of those 300-odd files.
Two conclusions can be inferred from the HMPS. Firstly, that other intervening factors, such as communication failures in the doctor-patient relationship, determine whether or not an adverse event will result in litigation, and, secondly, that a negligent act or omission is a necessary, but not the sole, condition for a successful claim in negligence. A third possible conclusion, of course, is that patients do not sue when they have no inkling that their adverse outcome arose from a negligent error! The Bristol case[SIZE=-1]4[/SIZE] shows that, even when a negligent error is reported, instead of facilitating communication the first response of the medical community may be to suppress the information by "killing the messenger".
The factors driving a patient to sue were surveyed in a 1994 study in the United Kingdom of 227 patients who had commenced legal action for alleged medical negligence.[SIZE=-1]2[/SIZE] Only about a quarter said their primary motive was money (compensation). The rest were evenly spread between "it was the only way we could find out what really happened" (information/communication), "we wanted someone brought to account for what happened" (acknowledgement/accountability) and "we want to ensure this doesn't happen again" (regulation/discipline). Litigation(seeking compensation through a civil action) can only provide money, and a poultice of money does not cure all ills.

A doctor's behaviour after an adverse event, or after receipt of a complaint, is often the major factor determining whether the patient proceeds to litigation or chooses another avenue of complaint or does nothing.
[FONT=Arial, Helvetica]
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dr doze

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Planktonmd

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I would have told them how many times I have been sued and left it at that.
I told them that the average anesthesiologist gets sued once every 10 years.
This made me think how sad it is for a society when children who are supposed to learn about the positive things in life are learning that it is a normal and expected thing to sue your doctor.
 

Stitch

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I told them that the average anesthesiologist gets sued once every 10 years.
This made me think how sad it is for a society when children who are supposed to learn about the positive things in life are learning that it is a normal and expected thing to sue your doctor.
I think that's a good response, and I agree that it's sad. Where did you get that 1 per 10 years though? This subject came up in the ER forum the other day, and the number was 1 per 4-5 years, but the source wasn't cited.
 

rsgillmd

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I think that's a good response, and I agree that it's sad. Where did you get that 1 per 10 years though? This subject came up in the ER forum the other day, and the number was 1 per 4-5 years, but the source wasn't cited.
I'm not sure if Plank knows his source or not, but I think there is one out there. When I was a resident, one of my attendings mentioned the same thing (about 1 every 10 years). 1 every 10 years is bad enough. 1 every 4-5 years would be very sad.
 

pgg

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Only about a quarter said their primary motive was money (compensation).
I have to admit I'm surprised that they managed to wring an honest answer out of that many.
 
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Planktonmd

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OK guys,
Let's not Philosophize this too much:
People sue doctors for one reason: MONEY!
And Lawyers encourage them to do so for the same reason: MONEY.
All that other crap about being nice and communicating properly is BS that insurance companies spread around.
If the patient thinks that he/she is going to make money from suing you then, trust me on this one, they are going to sue your ass.
 

PistolPete

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I am just an ignorant med student, but what happens when you lose a lawsuit? How much does your malpractice go up by? 10%? 25%?