I left the operating room after a scheduled two-and-a-half-hour case that turned into an eight-hour nightmare. I arrived home and told my wife: “I kept the patient alive, but I am going to get sued.”

Almost two years later, I received a knock at my door late one winter’s night, and a stone-faced man handed me a notification that I had been served. When I first saw the charges, I flippantly thought they were so ridiculous and not well-founded that I would be dropped from the case. However, as time went on, I realized that this was serious and that my policy limits were the target.

Having been in practice for about 18 years at the time, I had seen many colleagues going through the litigation process. While in an academic department I saw an excellent physician become nervous...

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