“Don’t think it can’t happen to you.” That’s advice from Gene Pascarella Jr., DPM, who will reflect on the wrongful death malpractice suit he never saw coming during the Risk Management Breakfast Symposium today. Dr. Pascarella wants attendees to know they need to be prepared for the claim no physician wants to be forced to defend.
Dr. Pascarella will present along with Michael Lowe, JD, and Wilbert Vancol, JD, to share his personal experience. Together, the presenters will run through the patient’s history, the care Dr. Pascarella provided, the patient’s death, conversations with family members, and the legal process—from being served in his office to going to trial.
The session will deliver insight about the experience from Dr. Pascarella’s perspective, as well as practical advice to help physicians safeguard themselves against lawsuits and be prepared should one happen.
“We’ll talk about things physicians do wrong, such as admitting liability or a mistake to a family member,” said Lowe. “Other mistakes you can make: not listening to counsel, and not learning from your mistakes. Regardless of the outcome of the case, you have to learn from it. Dr. Pascarella has been great about that. His documentation was already strong, but he has changed the way he documents his medical decision-making, he has made changes in his practice and his consent forms.”
Dr. Pascarella said it’s also vital to listen to your gut. “If there are red flags, you need to pay attention. Be mindful of that voice in your head.”
The session will also cover the extensive work that goes into prepping for a trial. “It was eye-opening, the amount of work that goes into it,” Dr. Pascarella said. “I have to mention how supportive PICA was in providing expert witnesses and whatever I needed.”
“PICA is an outstanding company in the way they protect their insureds,” Lowe agreed.
Finally, the presenters will discuss the emotional burden of defending a case such as this one. “It’s very emotional,” Lowe said. “You have to have a coping mechanism outside of yourself.”