10) Relax: This may be the most important tip of all. Lawsuits impose a tremendous amount of stress upon all of the participants, but especially upon a physician whose care is under fire.
We’ve represented physicians who have become so stressed and frustrated by the litigation process that it has overwhelmed them and harmed their ability to provide high-quality care for their ongoing patients.
Some physicians resort to alcohol or other substances to cope with stress. This is the worst possible scenario because it increases the likelihood that you will face another lawsuit in the future.
You need to recognize the stress imposed by a lawsuit, take care of yourself, take care of your practice, and seek help when appropriate. Almost every state has a peer-counseling program for physicians that offers specialized and confidential assistance for physicians. Contact your local medical association for a referral to one of these organizations. TH
Patrick O’Rourke works in the Office of University Counsel, Department of Litigation, University of Colorado, Denver.