Are Hospitalists More Likely to be Sued on a Group Policy than of their Practicing as an Independent Contractor?

Well, to answer this question I think we have to look at some of the other special I believe that based on our experience ensuring hospitalist groups that they are doing an excellent job of improving their services working with their societies studying claims trends and communicating patient safety and risk management strategies to each individual hospitalist driving in learning and supporting this specialty

And, to look specifically at that question I think the answer is: …it depends.  It is probably true that if you remain solo, your chances of being named in a suit are less than if you are practicing in a very large group. There are multi-specialty groups where  there is more ‘sharing’ of patient care and, thus, more of a chance that multiple physicians within the group will be included in the same claim.  (the more physicians involved with the direct patient care, the more there are to sue)..
For this reason, almost all multi-specialty groups carry their own limit of liability. There are some groups where you might find a shared per incident limit rather than a separate limit policy structure. Probably the most efficient and affordable type of policy is a roster type of multi-specialty or single specialty group insurance policy.

Rolling Tail, claims made, per consult policy:  the most efficient type of medical malpractice policies (if you are in a situation where you can obtain one of these is the claims made rolling tail separate limit roster policy. A lot of jargon that basically says you got all of the benefits of an individual claims made policy (separate limit, priced individually measuring the risk of the specialty, with the flexibility and pricing of a tale included occurrence policy.

Not as great a  likelihood to be named in a cross claim  in Anesthesia, ,This is  not as likely specialty to involve more than one..Therefore:  small chance of being named in a  claim just b/c you’re on a group. You are still the one doing the case.  whether alone or part of the group.  if you are the Anesthesiologist providing the services, than you  alone   will be named.

In a study published in the November 2009 issue of Today's Hospitalist. Stella Fitzgibbons, M.D. says that The practice of hospital medicine seems like a recipe for getting sued.   The patients are sicker than others but they rely on the visits from the physician at the hospital more than any other provider making the rounds, checking on them.  

There is an added challenge because the relationship with the patients and their families is new (or non-existent). The good news is that hospital-based physicians are not as likely to be named in typical and traditional ‘failure-to-diagnose” cases that plague primary care physicians.  But as the number of hospitalists increases, the number of suits against them rises.  And, there is no certainty that they won’t be added to a class action claim.

Why are suits filed? Data on how many hospitalists are sued has established some general reasons why patients sue physicians.

patients feel pushed to take legal action not only because they suffer an injury, but because of how the situation is handled. One Lancet study, for instance, found that poor communication by physicians both before and after an event often left patients and families feeling that the doctor was uncaring or needed to improve his or her practice.
This is one of the reasons why  communication skills, handoffs between Hospitalists and hospital personnel is so strongly emphasized.  Handoffs and detailed checklists on the topic of many hospitalist physicians patient safety seminars. These physicians are learning to go through records medications and other patient care protocol in as detailed a matter as a pilot preparing for flight.

Patient Satisfaction with Hospitalists Research also shows that patients’ satisfaction with physicians is a powerful factor in their perception of their care, regardless of quality. Studies published in both the June 12, 2002, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association and the October 2005 issue of The American Journal of Medicine found that patient satisfaction, regardless of physicians’ care or bedside manner , correlated strongly with the risk of being sued.
In the second study, physicians with the lowest patient satisfaction ratings had twice as many “problems with patients  as those with the highest satisfaction scores.

There are other types of hospitalist services:  And, of course, it stands to reason that Certain specialties are particularly vulnerable to law suits.According to a study in the May 1, 1994, Annals of Internal Medicine, the list of high-risk Hospitalist  specialists includes obstetricians, orthopedic surgeons, , general surgeons and family practitioners. While research varies on whether hospitalists are more likely than other specialties to be sued has yet to establish how hospitalists stack up to other specialties in terms of liability risk, one thing is clear: Plaintiff attorneys are beginning to target the tenuous patient physician relationship because  hospitalists don’t meet patients before their hospital stay or see them after discharge.

Why hospitalists get sued While lawsuits against hospitalists fall into several categories, almost all of them—and many of the adverse events themselves—could have been avoided with better communication. It is the same with almost all specialties, more time communicating with patients and families can avoid time spent with lawyers later. The Trouble began with the admission The common cry after a hospitalist claim is:  the patient was fine until they went to the hospital,
then all of the health problems began. Physicians, hospitalists especially need to discuss the condition upon admission and every step, every exchange between physician along the way.  The chain of care is continuous  and connected during the entire sensitive time of the admission; the sicker patients are vulnerable.
Their families are in a heightened state of angst;  It seems that the hospitalist groups that pay careful attention and respect the state of the patients,
take action by communicating often wand with compassion, the loss experience,  the risk management events are lessened significantly.

    The Doctors’ Insurance Agency has worked with The Doctors’ Company to design and implement creative hospitalist malpractice insurance policies. We would love to bring our  risk management resources and rating experience to your hospitalist group.


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