ABSTRACT: Obstetrician-gynecologists should recognize that being a defendant in a medical professional liability lawsuit can be one of life's most stressful experiences. Negative emotions in response to a lawsuit are normal, and physicians may need help from family members, peers, or professionals to cope with this stress. Open communication will assist in reducing emotional isolation and self-blame. However, pertinent legal and clinical aspects of a case must be kept confidential, except for disclosure within the confines of a protected counselor-patient relationship as determined by state law.
* In courts, the doctrine of privilege affords protection against compulsory disclosure of confidential communication between persons such as physician and patient, psychotherapist and client, lawyer and client, confessor and penitent, and husband and wife. Whether or not such a privilege exists in a particular judicial venue is determined by federal law and the statutory and common law of the jurisdiction.