Dr. Erkeda DeRouen talks to Dr. Laura Fortner, a board certified OB/GYN with 21 years of experience. She is also a certified life coach who helps physicians overcome adverse events and medical malpractice. They talk about how to cope with emotional stress that comes from lawsuits and traumatic medical cases.
- [01:04] Introducing Dr. Laura Fortner
- [05:26] Medical Malpractice is Real
- [09:25] Coping with Distress
- [12:25] How Coaching Can Help with PTSD
- [18:15] Quick Ways to Overcome Triggers
- [23:03] How to Prevent Malpractice Lawsuits
Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Happen
There is a high likelihood that physicians, most especially surgeons, will get sued at least once. A medical malpractice lawsuit can shake your confidence, leaving you with a lot of doubts about your competence. Unfortunately, there is very little training or support for physicians to help them navigate this challenging process.
Coaching Can Help with PTSD
PTSD can be addressed through coaching, with the added benefit of being discreet. Coaching sessions are not charted in any way so you don’t have to be worried about it appearing on your medical record. If a traumatic event affects you to this day, you can engage in memory reconsolidation, stress relief, and thought work with a coach.
Manage your Distress
Whenever you feel frustrated, upset, or angry, you can stop negative self-talk by staring at a wall or object. Fix your eyes but try to look using your peripheral vision. This trick can help shut off your thoughts so you don’t reinforce the negativity you already feel. Another thing you can try is a mini meditation. Oftentimes, we feel out of sorts because we try to resist reality. Take deep breaths through your belly. On your third or fourth breath, say “I accept what is happening and I release all resistance to it.” This might seem like an insignificant practice, but you’ll be surprised by how much better you’ll feel afterwards.
Avoid Medical Malpractice
The #1 reason why physicians get sued is because patients feel like their doctors are not transparent with them. Patients will also tend to seek counsel if they don’t feel heard. They want to know that physicians are willing to learn from their mistakes or to make changes to better the system. Knowing this, doctors should be more empathetic towards their patients. At times, listening is preferred over speaking. Try to see things from your patient’s perspective and form a human connection with them. Little gestures like a handshake, shoulder pat, or even eye contact can show that you truly care.
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