Being named as a defendant in a medical malpractice case can be emotionally devastating to a physician — even if the physician is only peripherally involved in the case. Very few people fully appreciate how troubling it can be for a doctor who is named in such a lawsuit.
An excellent article by Pauline W. Chen, M.D. in the New York Times articulates very clearly how involvement in a medical malpractice suit can negatively impact a physician’s way of practicing medicine.
According to the article, a recent survey of more than 7,000 surgeons found that nearly one in four were in the midst of litigation. The lead author of the survey (Dr. Charles M. Balch of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas) notes that malpractice is at the top of the list of major stressors for most physicians.
I have found that meaningful asset protection can be a huge benefit to a physician — not only financially, but emotionally as well. Having reasonable malpractice insurance is a critical first step. But going a step further — and making sure that you have done everything reasonably possible to lawfully protect your personal assets — will usually bring quite a bit of peace of mind.