Malpractice. Nothing quite strikes more fear, anger and uncertainty in a physician than that one word. Most physicians will be sued for malpractice during their career. While you might feel a cloud over your head or a knot in your stomach, practicing self-care is vital during this time. Unchecked, the stress of medical malpractice litigation can lead to Medical Malpractice Stress Syndrome(MMSS).
Here are 5 tips to help manage your stress:
- Considered to be a form of PTSD, Medical Malpractice Stress Syndrome is not to be taken lightly. Talk to your physician about symptoms – like lack of sleep and tension – that you may be experiencing. Existing health conditions may also be exacerbated, so those may require special attention. If your symptoms are interfering with everyday life, your doctor can guide you towards the right treatment.
- Spend time with family and friends, keep engaging in your regular activities, exercise and maintain a healthy diet. Keeping your mind off litigation by spending time with loved ones is a healthy way to keep depression to a minimum. Exercise will help burn off feelings of anger and frustration, and help you focus on your day to day.
- Join a support group. The repercussions of internalizing are even higher among physicians because they can’t talk to their family and friends about what is going on with their case. Speaking with other doctors in similar situations not only alleviates tension, but also helps minimize feelings of isolation-a major symptom of Medical Malpractice Stress Syndrome.
- Talk to your attorney. Active participation in the legal process will help you feel more in control of your situation, and may even alleviate feelings of the unknown. The best offense is a good defense: gather all documentation, trust your attorney, and do your best to help the process.
- Make a list of past accomplishments and reflect on them when you’re feeling down. By reminding yourself of how far you’ve come, and how many people you’ve helped, negative thoughts that creep in can be kept at bay.
Malpractice litigation can often stretch into several years and unfortunately goes with the medical territory. Preparing for a marathon instead of a sprint will not only help you mentally and physically, but also help you as a practitioner. Often, current patients of physicians in the midst of a medical malpractice case feel the consequences. Positive self-care during this stressful time is good for both sides of the table!
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The opinions expressed here by AmVenture.com columnists are their own, not those of AmVenture.com.