Five Doctors Tell 'How I Survived After Being Sued'

Mark Crane


April 26, 2017

In This Article

Still Upset After 21 Years

A Kansas obstetrician/gynecologist, who asked not to be identified, was sued after a baby she delivered died 23 hours after birth.

The patient was at 36 weeks and febrile. "It was unclear where the fever was coming from. I had a concern that the fluid around the baby might be infected. We did an amniocentesis. The baby decompensated quickly after that. We performed an emergency C-section. The baby was infected and died a short time after delivery."

"The allegation was that we hit the umbilical cord with the needle, and that caused the baby to go into distress and require a C-section," she explains.

"I was very upset and sad over the outcome, but it wasn't my fault. I felt I did everything right. Getting sued felt like someone kicking me in the belly. Fortunately, the jury found for me."

"I was involved in another lawsuit around that time. It was ultimately dropped. But it made me wonder if I'd done the right thing going into medicine."

"Lawsuits do make you think more about the risks involved. But I didn't shun patients or change my practice by doing more defensive medicine." The doctor volunteers at a low-income clinic.

She urges physicians who've been sued to have someone to talk with. The doctor now works in the risk-management department of a malpractice carrier. "We have a 'care for the caregiver' program. If a doctor is sued, we help hook them up with a colleague to talk to. That can really help."

"The worst part of being sued is the sense of isolation. No doctor wants to hurt patients. But at trial, the plaintiff's lawyer says you're an awful doctor. You can't take it personally, but that's hard."

"Just talking about those cases gets me so upset, now 21 years later. It just stays with you. I get teary just talking about it."


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