Enhance Malpractice Liability Protection

Physician's Money Digest, February15 2005, Volume 12, Issue 3

All physicians today have concerns about malpracticevulnerability. Consider one example:According to a recent American Collegeof Obstetrics and Gynecology study, nearly15% of OB/GYN physicians in the past 4 years havegiven up practicing obstetrics because of medical liabilityrisks. Instead of taking such drastic measusres, theproblems could be handled judicially by following a bulletproofasset protection plan.

Building an Impediment

About 80% of liability lawsuits are withdrawn whenphysicians structure their asset protection plans properly.I have witnessed many such incidents. After doingpreliminary research for the case, the patient's attorneywould advise the patient to withdraw the case. Nolawyer wants to spend time and energy on a poor case.

If the patient does not want to withdraw the claim,their attorney will charge them a $20,000 retainer fee,without which the patient has no choice but to dropthe case. In the remaining 20% of cases, even if pursued,the physician would lose nothing. Thus, theexisting vicious trend of medical malpractice lawsuitscould be minimized and an estimated $65 billionannually could be put back into the health care systemto reduce costs for everyone.

Asset protection is a legal way to put your belongingsbeyond the reach of plaintiffs. Bulletproof protectionlegally makes all of your assets completely confidentialand beyond the search of ruthless collection attorneysand relentless government agencies, such as the IRS.

When done properly, bulletproof protection doesnot require a physician to obtain malpractice insurance.However, to obtain hospital practice privileges,a physician will need minimal insurance. Usually, thisis an administrative requirement established by thehospital, not the state government. Physicians need tounite on this subject, forming a local group to fighthospital administrations and state legislatures. Mydream is to see an AMA lobbying group formed tocarry this fight to a national level.

Selecting the Right Plan

Today, 100% of physicians are in need of assetprotection. We're living in an era of litigation explosion,with 94% of the world's liability lawsuits beingfiled in the United States. There are 800,000 lawyersin the nation and another 130,000 are attending lawschool. Many earn their living by filing liability lawsuits.Doctors must be awakened and educated on thismatter. The most important criterion for effectiveasset protection is timing; asset protection must beenacted before litigation starts.

Caution:

When seeking asset protection, take great care inselecting an attorney. The majority of attorneys don'tknow how to correctly protect physicians' assets.Many attorneys will suggest family limitedpartnerships and living trusts as asset protection tools.In reality, both are strong estate planning tools, butweak asset protection tools. Also, lawyers charge$20,000 to set them up. An adequate bulletproof assetprotection plan should cost no more than $3000.

A first step toward asset protection can be to form aland trust, which costs nothing. A land trust is a specifictype of trust set up to hold a property's title. It's very simpleto form a land trust. No attorney is necessary. Justtake a completed, notarized form to a courthouse andhave it registered. New property should be bought underthe land trust title and existing property should beimmediately converted to the land trust.

is determined to help prevent OB/GYN physicians from

quitting obstetrics. A graduate of B. J. Medical College India, he did

his residency in Tennessee and Michigan. He practiced in Brooklyn,

NY, until he retired in 2000 and currently invests in real estate and is

a financial manager in Connecticut. To support any physicians' group

activities, if you need land trust forms, or for more information, contact

Dr. Patel at 860-348-1086 or bpasset@aol.com. Dr. Patel is not an

attorney. The information in this article should not be considered qualified

legal advice.

D. N. Patel