The Price of Reputation

An online publication recently begged the question, “How Competent Is Your Surgeon?” In the piece, the writer claims that a friend was in a Florida hospital for an appendectomy, but a records check showed that the staff surgeon had been sued five times… and that all five times the case was settled out of court. The patient is said to have then asked for a second opinion and found a surgeon with better beside manner instead. The clear suggestion is that the surgeon with the malpractice suits settled outside of court is incompetent.

The facts would argue otherwise. Fact is, 3/4 of the suits filed are found to be frivolous, benefiting the patient and greedy attorney, but having nothing to do with any actual impropriety on the part of the physician. But in this article, the surgeon was judged by the allegations alone. That the hospital would not have kept a surgeon if the allegations were legitimate was never even addressed in the piece. Unfortunately, if enough people believe in those allegations, even though he was never found guilty of anything, not even once, the surgeon’s reputation will be damaged enough that his employment with the hospital may be in question as well, and all over what is likely baseless allegation.

There are two factors that come into play in this scenario, two ways in which the surgeon could have acted to avoid having his abilities come into question like that. The first is the physician’s bedside manner. While most of us would prefer a doctor with great skill over a lesser physician with pleasant demeanor, the perceptions of the patient do matter. This is something even the most stoic of physicians can overcome with a little effort. Patients are less likely to feel comfortable suing a physician that they’ve come to think of as a friend. Sometimes poor bedside manner itself has been the basis of a suit.

The second aspect pertains to the physician’s choice of Professional Malpractice coverage. The preferred companies will leave the physician the option of defending against the suit in court. Lesser carriers may have the prerogative to do whatever is cheapest for them — which is usually settling even frivolous cases out of court, as the costs of legal defense alone may be greater than the patient will settle for. Healthcare professionals should always make a point of acquiring policies that leave that choice to the policy holder. After all, protecting your reputation is an aspect of financial protection as well!

As an independent insurance broker, Presidio will see to it that you have the very best coverages possible. It may cost you just a little more to gain quality protection. Regardless, you’ll be getting the very best rates possible by going through Presidio. Make sure your insurance broker is able to be in your corner. The value of your reputation is too important to settle for anything less.

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