APMA News - June 2012 - (Page 64)

Insurance Advisor By William F. Munsey, DPM Firsthand Malpractice Advice; Expert Witnesses A doctor writes: “I have just finally ended a two-year nightmare by settling a malpractice case. Unfortunately, most of us will find ourselves in this position during our practice lifetime. The details of my case are not important, but the lessons I have learned may be helpful to readers who are faced with similar circumstances. A surgical error required a second surgery. I talked frequently with the claims adjuster at PICA and followed his advice on communicating with the patient and her family. I was careful not to admit fault, but at the same time, to let them know I was truly sorry for the problem, the reason it had occurred, and the measures I would take to correct the situation. I made several house calls for the patient, and my staff had daily phone contact. In the end, we did write off the deductible of the patient’s insurance and compensated her some lost wages. The patient was satisfied and an expensive trial was prevented. “I gleaned two important lessons from this experience. The first is that the claims adjuster is your friend and you should seek his or her advice early in the process. Helping you through the problem will not result in an increased insurance premium. An outsider’s perspective is helpful, and having a decision-making partner is reassuring. The second observation is to record all of the communications you and your staff [have with the patient] to express your concern—specifically, that you are sorry the problem occurred, the reason it did occur, and what you will do correct the problem.” DR. MUNSEY’S COMMENT: We have been taught that when it comes to record keeping, if it’s not recorded, it did not occur. Review of malpractice records reveals that documentation of the doctor’s concern and empathy and expression of that concern are usually absent. If the case comes under review by a plaintiff’s attorney or a jury, it would be helpful to demonstrate the concern of the doctor and staff early in the process. ANSWER: Several state legislatures have included in their statutes minimum requirements for those serving as expert witnesses. The American College of Surgeons has published recommended qualifications for the physician who acts as an expert witness1, a summary of which follows: • • • • • • • The physician expert witness must have had a current, valid, and unrestricted state license to practice medicine at the time of the alleged occurrence. The physician shall be a diplomate of a specialty board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties at the time of the alleged occurrence. The physician should be qualified by experience or demonstrated competence in the subject of the case. The physician should hold or have held privileges to perform those same or similar procedures in a hospital accredited by The Joint Commission or the American Osteopathic Association. The physician should be familiar with the standard of care provided at the time of the alleged occurrence and should have been actively involved in the clinical practice of the specialty or the subject matter of the case at the time of the alleged occurrence. The physician should be able to demonstrate evidence of continuing medical education relevant to the specialty or the subject matter of the case. The physician should be prepared to document the percentage of time that is involved in serving as an expert witness. In addition, the physician should be willing to disclose the amount of fees or compensation obtained for such activities and the total number of times he or she has testified for the plaintiff or defendant. n QUESTION: The outcome of any malpractice action depends to a great extent on the expert witnesses’ testimony for the defense and plaintiff. While attorneys on both sides will present their expert witnesses’ qualifications, what are the minimum qualifications to be considered an expert witness? 64 APMA News June 2012 1 “Recommended qualifications for the physician who acts as an expert witness,” American College of Surgeons, accessed May 11, 2012, http://www.facs.org/fellows_info/statements/st-8.html. Contact Dr. Munsey at wfmunseydpm@gmail.com. http://www.facs.org/fellows_info/statements/st-8.html

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of APMA News - June 2012

APMA News - June 2012
President’s Message
Contents
APMA Introduces REdRC
Legislative Scrapbook
APMA By the Decade
Profiles in Progress
2011 Podiatric Practice Survey
Reimbursement
Federal Advocacy Forum
List of Cosponsors to the Equity and Access for Podiatric Physicians Under Medicaid Act
APMAPAC Chair Report
IT Consultant
Website Wisdom
Technofile
Small Business 101
CPME Update
Pediatric Medical Assistans' Education Program
Annual Scientific Meeting Preliminary Program
Annual Scientific Meeting Sponsors
Annual Scientific Meeting Registration Form
APMA All Stars
In Short
Worthy of Note
Affiliates Corner
List of Affiliated Organizations
Insurance Advisor
New Members
Death Notices
APMAPAC Update
Development Update
Call for Third-party Comments
Classified Advertising
Dates to Remember
Advertising Index
Your APMA

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