Insurer provides psychiatic support for physicians who are sued

October 1, 2005

Seattle-based Physicians Insurance has pioneered a model program to help physicians whom it insures to cope with the stress of being sued.

Seattle-based Physicians Insurance has pioneered a model program to help physicians whom it insures to cope with the stress of being sued. In essence, the program allows physicians to gain control of their situation.

According to Medical Liability Monitor (July 2005), Ronald Hofeldt, MD, a psychiatrist and the insurer's director of physician affairs, has been working with the company's insured physicians since 1994. When a lawsuit is filed, he contacts the physician involved who is insured with the company. He offers support to the physician from the lawsuit's filing through depositions, settlement discussions, and if needed, trial. He not only provides psychiatric counseling for dealing with the stress, but he also explains the litigation process and helps physicians develop their testifying skills.

The payoff can be great: It's hoped that the personalized physician-support program will help physicians become better defendants, stay in practice longer, and be less likely to second-guess themselves by ordering expensive tests to ward off future lawsuits. It could also result in fewer repeat claims and insurer loyalty.