Healthcare Technology Featured Article

January 07, 2021

How To Defend Yourself During A Malpractice Lawsuit

Healthcare professionals hold important roles in keeping people safe and well. Being a professional in the healthcare industry, you must hold the strictest standards in patient diagnosis, care, and treatment. As healthcare professionals interact with around a hundred patients daily, there’s a possibility of displaying negligence to your patient that could put their health at risk, whether you’re aware of it or not.

When healthcare experts decide to do nothing with their medical power while they could’ve done something helpful in the patient’s condition, they can be sued for medical malpractice. Once you’re in this situation, it’s paramount to do your best to defend yourself as its consequences can cause serious damage to your reputation and credibility.

Be Calm

No one expects to receive a malpractice complaint on a regular day. Once you receive one through email, phone call, or a conversation, the best favor that you can do to yourself is to stay calm. While it’s completely normal to feel confused, surprised, or mad, you should keep this complaint to yourself only. Avoid unnecessary discussions with your colleagues, staff members, and friends as everything that you say during this conversation can be used later against you.

The person who filed the lawsuit is called a plaintiff, who could be the patient themselves, or a relative or representative of theirs. Typically, plaintiffs request for monetary damages through narrating any of the following events:

  • You committed a mistake by doing something.
  • You committed a mistake by doing nothing.
  • The patient got injured because of your mistake.
  • You failed to treat the patient by observing acceptable treatment methods.

Call Your Legal Team

The next urgent step is to assemble your legal team for a discussion. Before entering the field, it’s advantageous for medical professionals to have a legal team at their disposal in case of any legal emergencies. If you still don’t have one, look for a Texas medical board lawyer, if you live around the area, as early as possible, as well as contact your malpractice insurance carrier.

Physicians aren’t equipped with legal knowledge and can’t recognize legal threats, so it’s important to have legal assistance whenever you encounter circumstances that may lead to a future lawsuit. You can assign your own lawyer or have the insurance provider find one for you. Then, you must respond to the lawsuit within 30 days.

Don’t Contact The Plaintiff

You may get the urge to talk to your complainant to negotiate a settlement or ask further questions, but these steps are a big no-no. Don’t attempt to contact the other party, and don’t answer any calls from them for the same reason why you should never discuss the case in a non-privileged conversation.

If the plaintiff attempts to communicate with you, such as meeting up in person, texting, or calling, make sure to inform your lawyer.

Take Steps Back

The lawsuit wouldn’t exist in the first place if it weren’t for your medical actions. The verdict will depend on how the event, mistake, and its impacts were narrated on the court, as supported by witnesses and proofs.

Therefore, you should strengthen your side through tracing what happened during the incident. What medical attention have you given?  Why did you provide such medical attention?  To recall and reconstruct this information, collect the following information:

  • Patient’s medical records
  • Names of healthcare professionals who’ve had a history with the patient
  • Patient and treatment notes
  • Supplementary medical information that you relied on while treating the patient

Coordinate With Your Lawyer During Discovery

During the discovery, it’s crucial to coordinate with your lawyer and be informed about every detail of your deposition, particularly when gathering reports, documents, records, and witnesses that will support your case. In this stage, you can also request information from one another.

As the healthcare professional, you should explain to your lawyer the treatment, medication, and other important medical information that they may find difficult to understand. On another end, your lawyer will explain their expertise, the law, and how you can deal with your lawsuit using appropriate legal procedures.

The discovery and deposition may take weeks to months, so you can continue practicing your medicine while in progress.

Assemble Your Pieces At The Trial

Since your preparation lasts for a long period, it’s a huge challenge to keep your dedication and consistency. Before presenting on the trial, ensure sufficient legal preparation and do your critical part as a healthcare expert by providing factual medical information that you’ve gathered.

Here are other important reminders that can help in defending yourself during the trial:

  • Make an impactful opening statement.
  • Hire expert witnesses.
  • Investigate the plaintiff’s witnesses.


Clinical communication is an essential aspect of attending to a patient as it’ll lay the foundation of providing treatment, medication, and care. Misunderstandings and disagreements may occur in your relationships with patients, and, unfortunately, patients who experienced major issues under your care may bring their concerns to court. Therefore, it’s important to be informed on how to defend yourself in court during a malpractice lawsuit in case you’re served with one.

Cari Peterson

Cari Peterson is a full-time blogger who focuses on publishing health-related articles on her blog. Cari also works with other health-focused websites by submitting guest posts.

During her leisure, Cari loves to play with her two dogs at home.


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