“While loading up on malpractice insurance may seem like a way to have “extra” protection, it is more likely going to put the physician’s personal assets and property at risk,” says Brian Luster, President and co-founder.
New York, NY (PRWEB) May 29, 2012
Physicians today to remain on “high alert” about lawsuits and it is no wonder.
The Physician Family Office found that according to the American Medical Association’s findings, there are over 120,000 active medical malpractice claims outstanding today; 90% of all surgeons will be sued at least once by age 55; more than 61% of all medical doctors will be sued by age 55; and 50% of all OB/GYNs will be sued before they turn 50.
“With the average cost of settling a malpractice suit around $350,000, it is wise for MDs to arm their practices—and themselves—against highly disruptive and costly legal battles. Knowing what makes plaintiffs’ attorneys tick is critical; so is mastering the legal process,” advises Steven Abernathy, physicians’ advocate and co-founder. “Instead of running away from litigation, embrace it through voluntary participation. When you spend time becoming an expert witness, you turn the process on its head. So I advise my clients to learn how to handle themselves in a courtroom.”
When asset protection for an MD has been set up properly with a few precautions, the chances of lawsuits decrease significantly. “While loading up on malpractice insurance may seem like a way to have “extra” protection, it is more likely going to put the physician’s personal assets and property at risk,” says Brian Luster, President and co-founder.
An attorney may “gamble” on a case where there is a payout, and, this does not mean the case needs to be won. If the case has little merit, it will be dismissed and the attorney will be out costs. However, at the prospect of a higher payout, they may be more prone to roll the dice, hoping for causation between the physician’s actions and the patient’s injury – even if it’s unlikely.
Bottom line: attorneys want to be paid and save the hassle of a trial—insurance companies want to avoid the risk of a huge verdict. When a doctor has an extremely high premium due to his policy limit, this “cost” is likely to attract lawsuits rather than deter them.
The Physician Family Office advises purchasing low-to-medium malpractice coverage coupled with legally protecting your assets. This alone saves physicians money every year on malpractice premiums, will save on estate taxes, and deters frivolous law suits since attorneys will see there is nothing there—so they won’t waste their time; or anyone else's.
A few simple precautions may greatly decrease the risk of a successful malpractice claim. They include:
- Consulting a professional to ensure assets are legally structured so that no one, other than the physician, has access to them. When no assets are available to creditors, MDs can purchase the least expensive malpractice insurance to repel frivolous suits. Structured correctly this pays dividends for decades.
- Seek Informed Consent. Patients are more likely to have realistic expectations of their procedure when both the benefits and risks are explained and documented.
- Be proactive! "Get involved in the process voluntarily and have someone else pay for you get accustomed to handling rapid fire questions and accusations in court," recommends Abernathy. "Chances are you are going to be there at some point, no matter how good you are!"
- The American Board of Independent Medical Examiners recommends becoming an “expert witness” to turn time in the courtroom into a money making event. A physician may earn $500.00 or more per hour.
The Physician Family Office recommends that MDs who want to thrive over the next 20 years and beyond render their estates both impervious and impractical to attack. Willing, pro-active participation in the legal process is an opportunity for physicians to “learn and earn” while gaining a birds’ eye view of the legal process.
Not sure how much insurance is the right amount? For more information, or to schedule an interview with Steven Abernathy and Brian Luster, contact Kira Citron at call 212-293-3401 or kcitron(at)abbygroup(dot)com.
Steven Abernathy and Brian Luster are physicians’ advocates and founders of the first Physician Family Office (PFO) in the country. The Physician Family Office is independent, employee-owned, and governed by its Advisory Board comprised of thought-leading physicians. To learn more visit: http://www.physicianfamilyoffice.org.