Research Institute: Physicians as Risk Managers
One of the leading risk management theories holds that, in the wake of a bad outcome, physicians often mismanage the interpersonal aspects of the doctor-patient relationship. It is said that, because we fail to properly communicate and display empathy at these critical times, physicians cause many unnecessary lawsuits and thereby greatly worsen the medical malpractice problem. This line of reasoning is particularly popular among trial lawyers (both plaintiff and defense).
In two scientific studies, done a decade apart and at opposite ends of the country, it was found that less that 2% of patients who suffered injury as a result of medical negligence eventually filed a lawsuit. The other 98% of patients, all of whom had a viable claim for medical malpractice, did not sue anyone. Although neither study evaluated the methods by which physicians achieved these results, the studies suggest that physicians are phenomenal risk managers.
The New England Journal of Medicine
July 25, 1991
March 2000 - Volume 38 - Issue 3 - pp 250-260