Author + information
- Marwan Badri, MBChB∗ ()
- ↵∗Lankenau Medical Center and Lankenau Institute of Medical Research, 100 Lancaster Avenue, Wynnewood, Pennsylvania 19096
I appreciate the comments of Dr. Lazarous and colleagues on my editorial (1) and strongly welcome the efforts to introduce educational activities relating to the avoidance and handling of cases of medical malpractice litigation to training curricula of residents and fellows.
On the other hand, although it would be ideal to describe the process of being involved in a legal patient complaint related to medical practice as mere “professional liability,” the unfortunate reality is different. As Dr. Lazarous and colleagues correctly stated, in the majority of these legal cases, no fault is found. Nevertheless, the effects of these cases on the involved physicians, who not infrequently suffer significant psychological stresses, may be more compatible with the claims being malpractice. In these cases, physicians are accused of being negligent enough to cause patient harm, rather than just being part of an unfortunate event during their practice. In fact, there is evidence that the negative effects of these accusations are profound enough to extend to those not directly involved in these cases. In a recent survey of cardiologists and cardiology fellows (2), surveyed participants reported that the fear of malpractice litigation influences clinical decisions and may increase unnecessary cardiovascular testing. There was no difference in these survey responses between those with and without prior involvement in malpractice, which may reflect the spreading effect of malpractice accusations on other physicians in the same field. Educating physicians, as well as introducing tort reform, are therefore imperative to offset what has been described a malpractice crisis (3) while ensuring patients are safely treated to the best possible standards.
- American College of Cardiology Foundation