What to do if you’ve been sued

November 19, 2019
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What to do if you’ve been sued

Word on the street has it that for every ten years in practice, you’re likely to be sued by a patient at least once. We’ve discussed how you can avoid a lawsuit, but sometimes there are factors beyond your control. In the event that you are sued, where do you turn to lift the cloud that immediately follows you everywhere?

DOCCUPATIONS has some dos and don’ts to help guide you through this unfortunate development.

Don’ts

  1. Don’t overreact. Most dentists have been named in lawsuits and have survived to tell the tale.
  2. Don’t alter your records. Your patient records are legal documents, so it is illegal to make any changes to them.
  3. Don’t talk about the lawsuit, except with the representatives from your insurance company. When you do speak with the reps, don’t understate or overstate the details of the case. Just paint an accurate picture of the occurrence.
  4. Don’t release any records without speaking to your attorney.

Dos

  1. Do note the method and date of service if you’ve been served with a summons and/or complaint. In legal situations, all details matter.
  2. Do notify your insurance company immediately. You want them to have your back from the get-go, and your rep will also be likely to give you some peace of mind.
  3. Do make a decision about whether or not to inform your staff. If your employees were involved in the situation, they need to know about the lawsuit.
  4. Do organize and secure records.
  5. Do let your insurance company decide how to handle the case. You have paid them a premium in exchange for their expertise. Now’s the time to let them earn it.
  6. Do remember to breathe.

Just like all the dentists who have gone through this process before you, you will survive this lawsuit. Hopefully, you will take some time to reflect on the circumstances that precipitated the lawsuit, determine whether or not you contributed to the outcome, and if so, make adjustments to your behavior and actions in the future. As long as you learn from the experience, the cloud created by the lawsuit has a silver lining.

 

~DOCCUPATIONS

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