Litigation Stress Resource Center

Being involved in a lawsuit – even if it doesn’t go to trial – can be incredibly stressful. Often healthcare professionals don’t think about the stress of litigation until they are actually in it. The stress from a legal case can bleed into the rest of their professional life and even into their personal life.1  

Almost all physicians (approximately 95%) who are sued report feeling frustrated, angry, and anxious.2  About 30% report feeling symptoms related to depression such as hopelessness, a loss of energy, or the inability to sleep.3  

To help you navigate or prepare for the psychological pressures of litigation, here are some resources you may wish to consider:

ISMIE’s online resources 

External resources

  • Physician Litigation Stress Resource Center: This resource center provides support and education related to the various stages of a lawsuit – from preparing for litigation to the aftermath of a case. Self-assessments for identifying symptoms and tips for seeking help are also available. 
  • Physician Support Line: A free and confidential service, the Physician Support Line aims to help healthcare professionals – including medical students – with stress and symptoms of burnout resulting from their professional and personal lives. The support line is available seven days per week with no appointment necessary.
  • Doctors and Litigation: The L Word: A podcast series by Gita Pensa, MD. These educational episodes cover the various stages of litigation and offer guidance from experts such as attorneys and psychologists. You’ll also hear from doctors who have experienced litigation firsthand. 
  • Physicians Foundation - Physician Well-Being: The Physicians Foundation is a non-profit organization focused on empowering physicians and helping them to navigate the ever-changing healthcare landscape. As part of their support to physicians, they make online resources about physician well-being available to the public.
  • MDMentor: A physician-founded organization aimed at reducing the stress that comes from litigation, here you’ll find various written resources, surveys, and the option to seek personalized help. 

Recommended books

  • How to Survive a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit by Ilene Brenner, MD
  • When Good Doctors Get Sued by Angela Dodge and Steven Fitzer
  • Adverse Events, Stress and Litigation, A Physician's Guide by Sara Charles, MD, and Paul Frisch, JD

While written and online resources can be helpful, there may also be times when more urgent support is needed. If you feel that you or a colleague need to speak with someone right away, don’t hesitate to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline through their chat on their website or via phone at 1-800-273-8255.

 

1 Rappaport DI, Selbst SM. Medical error and malpractice lawsuits: impact on providers – part 2 of 6. Pediatr Emerg Care. 2019 Jun;35(6):440-442. doi: http://doi.org/10.1097/PEC.0000000000001856.

2 Rappaport DI, Selbst SM. Medical error and malpractice lawsuits: impact on providers – part 2 of 6. Pediatr Emerg Care. 2019 Jun;35(6):440-442. doi: http://doi.org/10.1097/PEC.0000000000001856.

3 Rappaport DI, Selbst SM. Medical error and malpractice lawsuits: impact on providers – part 2 of 6. Pediatr Emerg Care. 2019 Jun;35(6):440-442. doi: http://doi.org/10.1097/PEC.0000000000001856.