Suitable Behavior: What to Do When Being Sued

by Neil Osterweil
WebMD Medical News

Harold J. Bursztajn, MD, associate professor of psychiatry and co-director of the program on psychiatry and the law at Harvard Medical School in Boston, tells WebMD that when a physician is served notice of a suit, "the first thing is not to take it personally. Try to understand what happened, see it in terms of a process of dispute resolution, continue to maintain a professional perspective, and respect the truth."

"It's important to keep in mind that there's a difference between making an error and being negligent," Bursztajn emphasizes. "But if you have in fact made an error that amounts to negligence, that doesn't mean you're the world's worst doctor, by any stretch of the imagination, or a bad doctor in general. One can learn from one's errors, even those errors which amount to being negligent."