Malpractice in pathology: What to do when you are sued

Academic Article


  • A malpractice suit arises when a patient brings legal charges against a physician for suffering that the patient claims to have endured because the physician failed to provide appropriate care. Suffering usually encompasses a measure of misdiagnosis and of rude treatment of the patient by medical staff. Polite treatment of all patients by all laboratory staff will prevent some disputes from ever forming, thus preventing some charges of malpractice. Even if a patient is treated rudely, that rudeness alone is insufficient to justify a charge of malpractice. Attorneys must follow legal guidelines to determine whether the physician's actions caused actual damage. As soon as a physician is served notice of a lawsuit, the physician must notify the office that insures him or her against claims of malpractice (eg, the office of risk management or the physician's malpractice insurance carrier). Being sued creates an overwhelming urge to talk about the case, but a physician who has been sued must not talk to anyone about the lawsuit or the case involved. Conversations about the lawsuit may only safely be had with the attorney who will defend the physician against the charge of malpractice. Despite any frustrations with the legal system, the physician must work with and even trust the attorney handling the defense. It is possible to overcome a charge of malpractice, but not if the physician creates an indefensible situation by committing fraud. Examples of fraud are changing the medical record or destroying the pertinent microscope slide.
  • Authors

    Author List

  • Davis GG
  • Start Page

  • 975
  • End Page

  • 978
  • Volume

  • 130
  • Issue

  • 7