This book is recommended reading for those about to enter the practice of medicine; those already in practice will find it a helpful reference when seeking resources on a particular issue. My wife tells me that because it also addresses the personal and emotional issues affecting physicians’ lives, it is suitable for spouses as well.


Published 6/1/2008
Murray J. Goodman, MD

Risk management—It’s not all about medical malpractice

In the narrow world of our day-to-day practice, orthopaedic surgeons often think of risk management strictly in terms of avoiding exposure to medical liability lawsuits. But in Insurance and Risk Management Strategies for Physicians and Advisors, author, physician, and healthcare economist David E. Marcinko, MD, has assembled a cadre of experts who address the broader issue of risk management.

This book examines the many important risks that we as physicians face daily in the practice of medicine. You may not think of life insurance, sexual harassment, Medicare fraud, marital divorce, and privacy issues as part of a risk management plan, but they are. Dr. Marcinko has written a book that provides an initial reference point for these diverse issues.

Each of the 15 chapters covers a single area, providing a broad overview as well as specific information and recommendations. This book addresses the personal, professional and business risks physicians face on a daily basis.

Taking care of yourself
The personal side is first, beginning with a discussion on insuring the doctor’s life. The chapter explains the various types of policies available, as well as various permutations and combinations of policy provisions. It briefly discusses both health insurance and long-term care insurance. It includes the critical features to look for in selecting a long-term care policy for yourself and the necessary criteria for successfully filing a claim under such a policy.

Many orthopaedic practices are also small businesses, so property insurance and the business uses of life insurance, such as in buy-out and succession planning, are covered. The author reviews the use of restrictive covenants and employment contracts, providing examples of what works and what does not. One of the questions this chapter addresses is the difference in applicability between a restrictive covenant with regard to a departing employed physician and a restrictive covenant included in the sale of a medical practice.

Compliance and workplace issues
Recent actions by the Department of Justice and activities of the Office of the Inspector General regarding Medicare have focused attention on compliance issues. The text provides a good overview on medical documentation and healthcare compliance, including a summary of record-keeping obligations.

In addition, the author includes pointers on how a medical practice can avoid running afoul of the federal False Claims Act, fraud and abuse statutes, Stark and safe harbor laws, and the “alphabet soup” of HIPAA, OSHA, and ERISA regulations. Risks involved with serving as an expert witness, doing peer review and taking call are also covered. The discussions are as timely as those sponsored by the AAOS. The chapter on medical malpractice even includes a discussion of physician self-regulation and expert witness discipline.

The section on sexual harassment explains what constitutes a hostile work environment and what the physician’s role should be in risk avoidance. Complimenting an employee’s dress or telling a slightly off-color joke may seem innocent enough, but not if they meet the two criteria that determine offensive behavior and can lead to a lawsuit. Violence in the workplace is discussed as it relates to patients and employees, both as perpetrators and as victims. The author recommends that every orthopaedic practice have a policy and a plan in place to deal with these issues should they arise.

Going to court
One-quarter of the book is devoted to medical liability risks. Although the discussion of the medical liability crisis might be a bit dated and only too familiar to many readers, the section on the anatomy and procedures of a medical liability trial and the physician defendant’s role in that process is excellent. From subpoena to verdict, the process is laid out. Written by a malpractice attorney who is also a physician, the chapter provides solid advice on how to respond to the subpoena, secure the medical record (make an exact copy and seal it), and find personal counsel.

The financial risks of divorce are rarely covered in books geared to medical professionals, but this text examines them in detail. It also discusses prenuptial agreements and the special circumstances surrounding older divorcing medical professionals. Final chapters cover asset protection principles and how to select insurance and financial advisers who specialize in serving medical professionals.

Recommended reading
Each chapter is authored by an expert in that particular field, but the text has a uniform consistency and approach, listing basic principles and citing specific examples to illustrate the issues involved. Ample references are provided, including written texts and articles, case law, and Internet Web sites. The table of contents is functional, and the index is well-organized for quick reference.

Insurance and Risk Management Strategies for Physicians and Advisors (Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Sudbury, Mass., 2004) is a comprehensive examination of risk management strategies. It does not provide specific legal or financial advice, but it does provide a background in many areas germane to the practical aspects of maintaining a medical practice in this millennium. Although not a stand-alone text, it gives the reader the vocabulary and information necessary to take many of these issues to the next level.

Murray J. Goodman, MD, is a member of the Medical Liability Committee. He can be reached at