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Frequently Asked Questions

What do I do if I am sued for Medical Malpractice?

First, contact your malpractice insurance company immediately and fax the complaint; second, do not talk to anyone other than representatives of the insurance company or the attorney to whom you are assigned.

What do I do if a complaint or charges are filed against me by the licensing board?

If you have insurance for defense of disciplinary matters, contact your insurance company immediately. If not, contact an attorney before you respond to the Board. If your records are subpoenaed, do not send an original chart unless the subpoena specifically requests it. Send the original to your attorney. If you are asked to write a response, do not do so without advice from your attorney.

Will I lose because of jury sympathy toward the plaintiff even if I have a meritorious defense?

No, although jury sympathy can be significant in a medical malpractice case, especially if it involves a catastrophic injury. More important than jury sympathy is your credibility. If the jury believes you are a competent and caring physician, you can overcome the sympathy factor.

What if I do not have enough insurance to satisfy the judgment if the jury finds against me?

It is always important to protect your assets because of the potential for a medical malpractice claim against you. You should see an attorney, financial advisor, and an accountant to make sure your assets are protected if an excess verdict should by awarded by a jury.

Do I need a personal attorney if I do not have enough to cover a potential verdict?

Yes, you should have a private attorney independent of the attorney assigned to represent you by your malpractice insurance company. Your interest in protecting your assets against an excess verdict may conflict with your insurance attorney’s obligation to protect your insurance company only up to the amount of your coverage.

How do I protect myself from an action by the Maryland Board of Physicians?

There is no guarantee that you will not have to answer a complaint made by a patient to the Board of Physicians since any patient has the right to file a complaint for any reason. However, good record keeping and good patient-physician relationships are the best protection from frivolous claims to the Board.

What are my rights if the hospital summarily suspends my privileges?

Generally your right to a fair hearing for disciplinary actions by hospitals is governed by the Medical Staff Bylaws. There are significant similarities in bylaws by hospitals, but the most important feature is proper notice to you of the charges and the right to a fair hearing. It is important to contact an experienced attorney to defend you in such actions.

What are the penalties for altering medical records?

Altering records is not punishable per se, unless there is intent to deceive. There are legitimate ways to amend records. If intent to deceive is found, servere fines and penalties can be imposed.

How do I improve my record keeping?

Electronic record keeping is the safest way to protect yourself from actions against you for poor record keeping or for evidentiary problems in court. However, no record is foolproof and it is always important to review what you write. Also, a multitude of courses on record keeping are available.

What is the effect on my practice if the Maryland Board of Physicians issues a reprimand, probation, or suspension of my license?

Any of the penalties imposed by a licensing board can have a significant impact on your practice. Credentialing boards sometimes will suspend your right to practice, for example, if you are on probation. Some credentialing boards have dismissed physicians from their approved physicians based only on a reprimand.

What is the procedure before the Maryland Board of Physicians?

Currently, the statutory scheme for disciplining a physician in Maryland is weighted heavily in favor of the licensing Board. The Attorney General’s office is both the advisor and prosecutor for the Board and the Board has near unfettered authority to discipline physicians. Generally, an action begins with notice of charges, an opportunity for a Case Resolution Conference, a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, thereafter an appeal to the Board and finally an appeal to the court.

What happens if I talk to someone about the case who is not my attorney?

Any conversation you have with someone who is not your attorney or a malpractice insurance company representative is admissible in court.

What is my exposure to HIPAA violations?

You can be charged with violations of HIPAA if you fail to obtain records through the subpoena process or by an appropriate authorization from the patient. It is important to consult your attorney before obtaining records if you are subject to a Board or Hospital action or a medical malpractice case.

Should I obtain hospital records for my attorney when I am served with a summons?

No, for the reasons stated above.

Should I do medical research to assist my attorney before I am deposed?

No. Any research you do after you are sued is subject to discovery by your opponent.

How do I prepare for deposition and trial?

Your attorney will set aside several sessions to thoroughly prepare you for trial. Witness consults and audio visual aids are often used for this purpose.

Is it true that if I did not write it in my medical record it did not happen?

No. Often physicians will perform tests or observations, or will discuss matters that they fail to document for one reason or other. Failure to document is a problem of proof not an admission that you did or failed to do something.