One of the unaccounted tolls of being named in a malpractice suit is the clinical stress and depression that some physicians and health care providers experience as a result of the suit. Nearly all healthcare providers get into the field because they want to help people. It matters to them that they are using their skills to do good for their patients, to improve the patient’s life. So when they’re accused of betraying that trust, they themselves also feel betrayed. They meant only to help, and now they’re being told that they did harm — so much so that they’re being rejected by their patient, attacked even. Naturally, that leads to self-doubt, and sometimes depression. The healthcare provider can withdraw, become uncommunicative, as she or he questions every procedure, every choice or decision.
Physicians are not gods. We’re all fallible. When something like this happens, it’s actually more of an indictment against the system than an intentional failing or incompetency on the part of the doctor or staff. When the ball gets dropped, though, it’s important to remember all the good done for all of the other patients. Healthcare providers who experience symptoms of depression should reach out to others in the field. It may surprise some to know that their peers have also felt this way at times. There are assistance programs available from professional associations. (Yes, it is common enough that such help has been established.) At least one Professional Malpractice carrier provides limited assistance on this score, because they know how hard it can be for a physician in a malpractice suit. Get some help in dealing with it. Sometimes another angle on the situation can help put it in proper perspective.
If you’ve been named in a malpractice suit, It may be time for you to be the patient for a little while. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. You’ve been attacked. Get some help and take a little time to recover. Above all else, remember that your family and patients need you back at 100%, back at doing what you’ve done so well for so many others, and will soon be back to doing again.