Skip to main content

The Bad News, The Good News, and How To Handle Both

physician staff
In the risk management business, the bad news is not if regarding claims against doctors, it is when. The good news is that, over the years, as a direct result of our exclusive Risk Management strategies, the Cooperative of American Physicians has been able to substantially reduce the probability of a lawsuit (or claim) being filed against you. Our statistics show that in 1997, when our membership was approximately 4,000 doctors, the likelihood of a claim was once every four years. After nearly 20 years of proactive risk management policies and with a membership of 12,000 physicians, the prospect of a claim against a member has been reduced to once every 10 years.

The most important thing to remember is that when bad news strikes, the team at CAP is on your side. The sooner the CAP team can be involved, the better. Whether it is a potential adverse medical outcome or the initial stages of a formal claim, the reason a doctor has chosen to be a member of CAP is for the superior protection provided when the chips are down. In these situations, a key element to focus on is cooperation, and that means, in part, that CAP should be notified immediately when you receive any paperwork requesting a deposition, 90-day notice to commence a lawsuit, a letter threatening a lawsuit, or a summons and complaint. These documents are extremely time sensitive and require immediate notification to CAP.

On-Demand Webinar: Key Strategies for Ensuring a Profitable Independent Practice
During this one-hour program, practice management expert Debra Phairas discusses how various business models and operational enhancements can increase revenue to help your practice remain successful in today’s competitive marketplace.

The CAP team of specialists will be most effective when notified at the onset. The longer you wait, the less time CAP has to mobilize and concentrate its efforts on helping to resolve the threatening issues. In the instance of an adverse event or formal claim, CAP has the resources to serve your practice in a variety of ways; however, without timely notification, CAP cannot be of any service at all.

One situation that can be extremely worrisome is a potential legal claim against a physician or the practice. We know that legal proceedings can be long, stressful, and potentially expensive. The sooner a doctor gets CAP involved, the better. So again, whether it is a request for records, a 90-day notice of intent to sue, or an actual summons and complaint, the team at CAP must be notified when you receive these documents. Only then can CAP act as an advocate for your practice.

In the event of good news, when all is going well with the practice, it is not time to put CAP on the shelf. CAP offers a variety of programs and benefits designed to keep your practice healthy and to prepare for when bad news strikes. Contact your risk management and patient safety specialist to learn more about what CAP can offer your practice.

Next month’s CAPsules preview: CAP Closed Claims Data Deep Dive: Liability Associated with Medication Administration by Medical Assistants.


Stephanie Cuomo is a Senior Risk Management and Patient Safety Specialist for the Cooperative of American Physicians. Questions or comments related to this article should be directed to