Physician and Defendant: Living and Coping with a Double Life

  • Sara Charles

After a bad outcome and, later, as named defendants in civil litigation, physicians, unbeknownst to others, often begin to feel as though they are living a double life. They are concerned about their affected patient and continue to devote themselves to their work with patients as though nothing has happened, but, at another level, they are preoccupied with their own concerns about survival, protecting themselves against anxiety and hurt, and devoting their time to defending their good name.

How can they manage their seemingly conflicted, but all too human, concerns, carry out their work, respond to the demands of the legal process, and emerge from the experience stronger and more self-assured professionals? To master this serious life stressor and maintain their integrity and equilibrium, physicians need to explore what the event means to them personally, recognize the emotions it generates, understand the reasons for these emotions so that they can distinguish what they can and cannot control, correct any distortions related to the event, and make changes that help them emerge as a confident and healthier person.


Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome Medical Malpractice Tort System Civil Litigation Malpractice Suit 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sara Charles
    • 1
  1. 1.PsychiatryUniversity of Illinois School of MedicineChicagoUSA

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