Medical Justice

Medical Justice is what appears to be a new organization whose aim is to “’prevent, deter and respond’ to frivolous malpractice lawsuits.”
This seems like a goal we – including good plaintiffs’ medical malpractice lawyers – can agree on, right? Frivolous lawsuits hurt everyone. For a cost of $625 to $1990 a year Medical Justice will give you:

•Pursuit of counterclaims against expert witnesses in their professional societies and state licensing boards
•Published database of members on the Internet to notify plaintiffs and their representatives that the physician is backed by an organization with the expertise, will, and funds to fight back
•Establishment of pre-emptive critical practice infrastructure to deter plaintiffs without interfering with the patient-doctor relationship
•Proactive early intervention strategy that can be executed in the event you are sued
•Access to PEER team of volunteer defense experts
•License to use Patient-Physician contract template language
•License to use contract template language to prevent being forced into small-claims court
•License to use contract template language to prevent physician being defamed on the Internet
•Access to program to address unwarranted requests for refunds or write-offs
•Allocation of up to $100,000 as assignee to pursue viable counterclaims, when requested and appropriate
Except for the first and the last, these are pretty much fluff benefits. The most absurd is the use of “license[d]” contract language to file a complaint. Please. I’ll put these on the Maryland personal injury lawyer website to save everyone the trouble.

I find the first one interesting – the pursuit of counterclaims against expert witnesses. It is an interesting strategy of trying to attack experts who are willing to stand up for patients. The last one is also interesting: up to $100,000 in legal fees to pursue counterclaims when “requested and appropriate.” Gee, I wonder who gets to decide what is appropriate… I’m guessing Medical Justice.

What troubles me about Medical Justice is the kind of doctors this is likely to attract: good doctors. This program appeals to good doctors who are unlikely to ever have a medical malpractice claim brought against them, but they fear frivolous lawsuits. As awful as they are for society, there is never going to be a jury verdict in a frivolous case. So why should doctors fear frivolous lawsuits? The doctor’s malpractice carrier will hire an excellent medical malpractice defense lawyer to get the case dismissed long before a settlement or verdict.

Wait you say, jurors award damages in frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits all of the time and frivolous malpractice cases settle all of the time. Okay, let’s ignore the studies that prove this is false and just pretend this is an accurate statement. If a case is settled or a jury finds against you, that is going to be an absolute defense to any claim that a medical malpractice lawsuit is frivolous. So there is no way this “insurance policy” (which I doubt is actually an insurance policy, anyway, because I suspect the term frivolous will be defined by Medical Justice) is going to have any real meaning for end users. It is like selling terrorism insurance in some farm town in Kansas. It is an illusory security blanket. (This was probably shot down as the Medical Justice motto.)

Medical Justice is “run by physicians for physicians.” They don’t exactly note this is a non-profit. So it is doctors trying to make a buck off other doctors by capitalizing on their fear of medical malpractice.

On the Medical Justice website, they offer a slew of testimonials, the majority of which are just puff, vague, “hey, you are great” testimonials. Of the few “results” testimonials Medical Justice offers, all could be attributed to the work of the doctors’ medical malpractice lawyer whose job it is to defend these cases in the first place.

If I’m wrong about this, Medical Justice let me know. And here is my challenge to you. Tell us exactly what your “results” have been. How many lawyers have you successfully brought claims against for filing frivolous lawsuits? How many actual claims have you brought? How many experts have you sued for standing up for patients? How many experts have you sued successfully? How many volunteer experts have acually provided testimony? If I’m wrong, I’m wrong. But I doubt it. If you are a doctor reading this, please make sure you ask these questions before you give them a single penny.

  • Frankly, it seems like all fluff to me. Sadly, as a medical malpractice defense attorney in South Florida, more and more of my clients are asking about such services and programs. Instead of the doctor being most concerned about defending the merits of a medical malpractice action (and protecting his/her career and assets), many physicians get caught up in retribution because of these things.

  • HarryG

    I’m a physician in Texas. I have been intrigued by Medical Justice for sometime now. They really try to prey on the fears of doctor and believe me there are a lot. The are now actively marketing a new “contract” called the web anti-defamation contract. Supposedly, you ask your patients to sign a contract with you not to post anything on internet rating sites. If they do you, you can write to the ISP and demand it be removed. Sounds interesting, costs $495 for the contract. What do you think?

  • Michael Merrill, MD

    I bought the medical justice service, and I’m happy I did. There is basically no downside for naming me in a lawsuit as an extra add-on, and then forever I have to report this when I apply for new credentials in a facility. I’m a hospitalist, which will probably end up being a high liability specialty. The most recent suit I had was for a patient I never even saw – I had given a verbal order while I was with another patient, and my partner went to stabilize the plaintiff. Medically, many actions like this make no sense, and generally they are brought by people who are angry about the facts of illness and death – that’s the underlying motivation.

    I agree that it is not well established that Medical Justice helps. But at least I get to feel like I’m not powerless in the situation. It’s worth it for that.

    As for the emotional nature of doctors – has Mr. Miller ever been sued for malpractice or malicious prosecution? Does he imagine that it would be an emotionally neutral, “just business” experience?

  • Ron Milller

    I have never been sued for malpractice. I don’t think it would be a “just business” experience and I’ll bet it is worse for a doctor. And I agree with Dr. Merrill that some people do file lawsuits because they are just angry at the outcome. None of this changes the fact that Medical Justice is not the answer.

  • Camille Adli

    I am a current medical justice client. One of their “great” benefits is to help you respond to patients asking for refunds. Well, all they want you to do is refund the money “before it blows up in your face” no matter what. I’m not renewing next year.

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