Medical Malpractice Stress Syndrome: How to Cope When Your Professional Reputation Is on the Line

medical malpractice

The increase in medical malpractice lawsuits in 2021 has contributed to a rise in Medical Malpractice Stress Syndrome. Medical mistakes can be costly, with far-reaching consequences for patients, healthcare providers and hospitals. A medical malpractice claim can affect all aspects of a physician’s life. For one thing, a litigation culture leads to a high burnout rate among healthcare providers. Because medical errors are bound to happen, it is important to learn how to manage litigation-related stress. But how exactly can you deal with Medical Malpractice Stress Syndrome?

Here’s what to know. 

What is Medical Malpractice Stress Syndrome?  

Medical Malpractice Stress Syndrome (MMSS), also known as Litigation Stress Syndrome, is a disorder that affects healthcare professionals facing litigation. Oftentimes, the lawsuit will bring about feelings of shame and cause the physician to question their competency and self-worth. MMSS not only affects the victim but also the people around them.

Symptoms of MMS

More than 17,000 medical malpractice lawsuits are filed each year. Understanding the symptoms of Medical Malpractice Stress Syndrome will go a long way in helping you protect your mental and physical health. Here are some signs to look out for. 

Mental Symptoms of MMSS

  • Negative self-image
  • Excessive worry
  • Self-doubt
  • Frustration and anger
  • Isolation and distrust
  • Depression
  • Decreased interest in work and recreation
  • Sense of being avoided by colleagues

Physical Symptoms of MMSS

  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Diminished sex drive
  • Insomnia
  • Tense muscles
  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Heavy drinking or drug use

8 Practical Tips to Help You Cope with MMSS

Now that you know the symptoms associated with Medical Malpractice Stress Syndrome, you should learn ways to manage the condition. This will help to minimize the impact that stress has on you as a person, your career, finances and social life. Below are some important steps to take if you develop MMSS. 

Find a Support System

Being confronted with a medical malpractice lawsuit can make for a challenging experience. To get through the difficult time, you need adequate emotional and social support. This is why you should find a trustworthy and understanding person that you can open up to. This could be a family member, friend or colleague. 

Reaching out for support will enable you to access advice on how to handle the ordeal. It can also help you overcome feelings of isolation and boost your self-esteem. Other options you can consider are litigation stress coaching and joining support groups. 

Consult Your Lawyer

Contacting a medical malpractice attorney can help you manage the stress of litigation. Since this is a legal process, your lawyer will provide expert legal counsel and support. The lawyer will also gather the relevant records to help you build a strong case.

Working with a good lawyer will ensure you have a dependable partner by your side. The knowledge that your case is being handled by a competent legal expert will help to ease stress and give you peace of mind. This will make it easier for you to handle the situation. 

Learn About the Litigation Process

To reduce your stress level, you should consider learning about the litigation process. This way, you will know what to expect, what is required of you and understand the effects of litigation on your practice.  

Familiarizing yourself with all aspects of the case will also ensure you are prepared if you go to trial. This way, you will be better able to keep your cool and protect your professional reputation. 

Take an Active Role in the Legal Process

Taking an active role in your defense can be difficult. However, nobody in the courtroom knows the case better than you. Participating actively in the process will make you feel more in control of the lawsuit, effectively helping you manage your stress level. Even as you do this, you need to follow all the instructions from your medical malpractice lawyer.    

Talk to Your Doctor 

Health care providers need doctors too. This is why you will have to pay attention to your body. In case you have any of the physical symptoms of stress, you should consult a mental health professional. It is also important to seek professional help if the case is interfering with your work or relationships. 

Acknowledging that you need professional help is a critical step in enabling you to weather the emotional storm. Your doctor will identify the right treatment plan to help relieve the physical and emotional effects of MMSS. 

Take Good Care of Yourself

One of the best ways of dealing with stress is to practice self-care and self-love. When dealing with litigation-related stress, you should focus on living a balanced and engaged life. A consistent daily routine will help to increase your sense of security. 

Make sure you establish your priorities, eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, meditate, get enough sleep, read, and spend quality time with friends and family. You should also engage in your hobbies and the activities you enjoy. Other stress management techniques include keeping a gratitude list and preventing isolation. 

Reflect on Your Accomplishments

As a physician, a medical malpractice lawsuit can make you question your competency. However, you should not let one medical mistake dominate your professional life. Such negative thoughts will adversely affect your ability to provide quality care to patients.

Reflecting on your achievements, reminding yourself how far you have come and staying focused will help you keep negative thoughts away. This way, the incident will not weigh you down and you will be able to move forward in your career.  

Remember You Are Note Alone

It is natural to feel alone and overwhelmed when fighting a lawsuit to defend your reputation. However, you need to remind yourself that cases of medical malpractice are quite common. This will help you avoid isolating yourself mentally and physically.

Additionally, there are numerous online and offline resources to help physicians deal with the stress associated with a malpractice claim. Effective use of these tools and resources will make it easy for you to cope with MMSS. Using technology can help to prevent medical errors. Our Chartnote tool is designed to enable you capture the essentials of the visit with minimal effort and accurately document the complete patient story. This saves you time and reduces the chances of errors, effectively helping you avoid potential malpractice litigation. Contact us today to learn more.

Have you been involved in a medical malpractice lawsuit? How did you cope with the stress? Feel free to share in the comments section below.

Discover Chartnote – We are passionate about preventing physician burnout by decreasing the burden of medical documentation.

About Chartnote

Chartnote is revolutionizing medical documentation one note at a time by making voice-recognition and thousands of templates available to any clinician. We know first-hand that completing notes while treating patients is time-consuming and an epic challenge. Chartnote was developed as a complementary EHR solution to write your SOAP notes faster. Focus on what matters most. Sign up for a free account: chartnote.com

Posted on: July 23, 2021, by :

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