Christine Zharova is an attorney that has defended physicians’ work rights and practices for the last 15 years.
Her work specializes in malpractice lawsuits, and unfortunately, she’s been pretty busy lately – big malpractice lawsuits are far more common in the healthcare world than people think.
Even more alarming is the percentage of chance a physician can get sued in such a case – it’s usually 50%+ for both high-risk and low-risk specialties.
If you’re a physician curious about the legal workings of healthcare lawsuits and the legal system behind them, our conversation with attorney Christine will keep you hooked. Enjoy!
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Full Episode Transcript:
Daniel Wrenne: What’s up guys? Hope you’re having a great day. This idea of getting sued or being in a lawsuit, it’s really a scary idea. I personally have never been involved in a lawsuit, knock on wood. But I know if you know that were to come up, it would kind of freak me out and so, Unfortunately, I know a lot of you listening as physicians are extremely likely to be in a lawsuit at some point in your career.
And you’ll hear from our conversation today it’s. For specialist, I think it’s like 99%. So it’s extremely high percentages of, you know, being named in a lawsuit. So it can be pretty scary. I know we have worked with families that have been involved in lawsuits and, you know, that, that’s the scary part.
The good news is there’s lots of things you can do now to help reduce the chances of it happening in the first place, or, you know, Increase the chances of you navigating through it successfully. There’s also some important things to be thinking about to help keep you healthy throughout the whole process, cuz it can be like a super stressful, super unhealthy process.
So there’s some things to be aware of that I think are important as you navigate through that process. And so, To help me tackle this, I think it’s a super important topic, talking about malpractice risk and like how to navigate it and what to look out for. So to help me tackle this big topic, I brought on my guest today, Christine Ava.
Christine is an attorney in Florida and has a ton of experience Working as a practicing attorney helping physicians through malpractice lawsuits 15 years. And today her legal practice is more focused on helping physicians to start their own practices while also bringing that malpractice experience to the table.
She also provides one-on-one coaching to physicians. And so physicians, it’d be safe to say physicians are a passion. It’s, you know, the majority of our professional worker, all of it is dedicated to helping physicians. And so, Christine is gonna be a great guest. My conversation with her, it was fun.
It was, there’s a lot to it and I think you’re gonna get a lot out of it at minimum stuff to think about for the future. So I’m excited to jump into today’s conversation with Christine Zar, Hova.
Daniel: Christine, how’s it going? Hi, Daniel. Good, how are you? I’m doing well. I’m excited to have you on. Thanks for coming on.
Attorney Christine Zharova: Of course. I’m so, grateful for the opportunity to come talk to you today and I’m looking forward to
Daniel: it. I think we have a lot to talk about. You have been doing some great work helping physicians and particularly in malpractice work and preparing for that and working through that, and then also some of your work in helping them through burnout.
And I know there, I like, I really like what you’re doing. You’re kind of working more in the preventative world. I mean, like you’re not, you are an attorney by trade and I know I know lots of attorneys and you know, I would say Christine is like one of the good guys helping, you know, helping you physicians kind of work through these things and also kind of helping with this preventative aspect.
Not just like doing the legal thing of like getting you through the malpractice lawsuit, but also like the educational thing. That’s the part that really struck me with you, our conversation is you’re really helping with like this kind of preventative slash educational aspect of helping to like limit or avoid or prepare for in advance these big, scary malpractice lawsuits that are super common and it’s crazy how common they are.
So I think yes you’re right. What are the stats? I mean, it’s like 90 plus percent or something, right?
Attorney Christine Zharova: Yeah. Yeah. So if you are in a high risk specialty you have a 99% chance of being sued by 65, and I wanna say it’s like 78 or 80% chance of being sued by 49. Now if you are in a lower risk specialty, I think the stats are like 88%.
Don’t quote me on it exactly, but it’s about 88%. By the age of 65, most physicians in the lower risk specialties will be sued. And yeah, I, you know, I’ve dedicated about 15 years helping physicians to the medical malpractice claims. And that opened me up to, not opened me up, but that made me realize just how unprepared they are and how stressful it is to overcome these lawsuits.
And in some way, physicians have become my passion. I help them in whatever way that I can. Recently I joined Bird Campbell, which is a law firm in Win Park where we do business litigation. And I also help physicians that are starting their own practices, you know, that have questions or need assistance to review their lease agreements, prepare operating agreements and so forth.
So I’m excited that I still get to help physicians, even though it’s not in the medical malpractice realm.
Daniel: Yeah. Well, 15 years is a long time, right? Yes. I would consider that a long time. And I think there’s a lot to talk about. I mean, that’s a, there’s a lot of things you’re helping physicians with, and I think there’s a lot we can talk about, and I think there’s gonna be really good stuff.
But before we get into it, I would love it if you could just share with us kind of like your story. I know you’ve, you’ve started to kind of introduce that, but like, how did you get to this point of like having this passion for helping.
Attorney Christine Zharova: Sure. Let me take off my Gmail so it stops pinging us. I apologize for that.
Daniel: Okay. Yeah, we got all these notifications
Attorney Christine Zharova: going. Yeah, exactly. I turned off my phone too, so we should be good. I started at an insurance defense firm. That’s where I was at for about 14 and a half years. And part of my work was helping physicians through medical malpractice claims. I represented doctors, their groups.
I represented, hospitals. And you know, what I really enjoyed about the work is being able to be there. For a physician not only as legal counsel to help them educate on the law, to help them through the process, to figure out how to structure the case, how to strategize on the case, but also be almost their counselor in some way.
And be there for them as a human being. Because what you realize is that physicians are, they’re very, they’re not used to needing help, right. They’re not used to asking for help. And when they get into a situation where they’re sued it’s very difficult for them to realize that this is the time where you should be asking for help in whatever way that it is.
It could be from your spouse, it could be from a friend, it could be from a colleague. But medical mal practice lawsuits carry so much shame with them unnecessarily. And I’d love for it to, I’d love to overcome that at some point they carry so much shame and. You know, the, I think the shame component, in addition to the component of not knowing how to ask for help or being, you know, not wanting to ask for help, really causes a lot of unnecessary weight and stress on physicians.
And so in my role as their defense attorneys, you know, I was always able to be that confidant for them. That person that was, you know, always there to talk about the case and talk about how they’re feeling and kind of get them into a place in their mind where they’re going to be strong, where they’re going to feel like, you know, I can do this, I can get through this, you know, it’s not gonna bog me down.
Daniel: What happens when you don’t ask for help?
Attorney Christine Zharova: Yeah, I’ve heard, you know, I’ve seen some story, or I’ve seen some of my clients who
Daniel: or maybe you’re too late asking for help. Maybe that’s a, yeah.
Attorney Christine Zharova: Yeah, I think it depends. I think it depends on how willing the position is to open up to the person that’s helping them.
Whether the defense attorney is also, you know, has the ability and the personality and the desire to serve in that role. Not every defense attorney wants to do that along with, You know, how how great of a rapport the physician builds with their attorney, because, you know, you mentioned I’m one of the good guys.
And you’re so right. Even though I’ve only represented physicians, you know, I’ve only defended physicians in medical malpractice claims. I still, what I’ve realized in speaking to hundreds of physicians in the last few years, some of them still look at me as the bad guy just because they associate an attorney, right.
As the bad guy. And so for some, it’s more difficult to build that rapport than others. And I think that for those physicians that are willing to build that rapport, to talk to their attorney, to really get their teeth sunk into the case and be open with their attorney that’s very helpful in eliminating the risk that there’s going to be fallout.
And Daniel, the fallout that I’ve seen or I’ve heard about are. You know, DUIs right before trial. During trial, you know, you’ve got physicians leaving the country because they just don’t wanna deal with it anymore. You’ve got divorces, you know? And I’ve heard of cases of suicide, which is just horrendous that it’s actually a part of the occupational hazard.
Daniel: Yeah. It’s like anything when you don’t deal with it. Yeah. Yeah. It builds up and then eventually pro makes you prone to a blow up. What? There’s a lot of and the shame too is a big deal. I mean, I know we we hit on that, and that just amps it all up, right? I mean, like, that just makes everything worse.
Yeah, it does.
Attorney Christine Zharova: And I think that there’s a component, like for any professional, you begin to associate your sense of self with what you do for a living. And, you know, one of the messages that I have for physicians is you know, your physician, but you’re also a human. You’re a mom, a dad, you know, a son, a daughter, a sister, a brother.
Like, there’s so many other parts to you. And it’s so important to remember that, that being a doctor, despite the fact that it’s taking you years to go through medical school, residency you know, board certifications, all of that, it doesn’t eliminate, you know, this completely separate person that you are.
And it’s an independent human being from a physician as a human being, you know. But I think for a lot of physicians because they don’t understand what it means to be sued, they automatically internalize it. And they think that, Being sued equals to them having done something wrong. And I can tell you that in my experience of my 15 years, that is not the case in most cases.
You know, I’ve seen lawsuits where the doctor did absolutely nothing wrong, and the case was such of a stretch that it was just, you know, it was difficult to like, difficult to know that your client is going through years of litigation on such a BS case, right? Other cases are more gray. There’s an argument.
There could be an argument that the doctor did something wrong, but there’s also an argument that they didn’t, and it’s a gray area. And in those cases, I’ve also found that most of the time the physician did nothing wrong. In medical malpractice, you are judged by what you knew at the time that you performed, you know, the procedure at the time that you provided your, you know, your recommendations or your opinion to the patient.
So it your, whether or not you complied with the standard of care is based on the information that was available to you at that time. Obviously, by the time that a lawsuit happens, the, in most cases there’s much more inform. So it’s very difficult, you know, for physicians to be like, well, I should have done it differently.
I could have done this and this and this. Because they know other information when they’re sued. Things that have transpired after the alleged negligent act, so to speak, right. Occurred. And so, I think that the lack of education in our system to physicians when they’re, you know, becoming baby physicians when they’re getting their education, the lack of that explanation of what the process entails, what it really means, what the elements are, and how to really judge yourself to truly understand was I negligent in my care of the patient, you know?
That is also something that is, that creates this contributes to that stress.
Daniel: Yeah. I imagine I would take it personally if somebody sued me. And I would be, feel shame and Yeah. Gravitate towards. I did something wrong, you know, because Yeah, something would’ve caused, even if it was just like I said something nowadays, it’s like you, maybe you say something that offends them, which on top of it something was gray, and then something unexpected happens and then all of a sudden you know, you a lawsuit.
I know you, I remember you mentioned when we were talking last time about one of the best things you can do to avoid a lawsuit. I think we were talking about like relationships. Is that right?
Attorney Christine Zharova: Yeah. I think that studies show that one of the biggest risk of a lawsuit is having a bad rapport, bedside manner with a patient, or just the patient not liking you.
You know, patients that like their physician, even when things go wrong. They’re less likely to sue that physician. But if they don’t like you and things go wrong, and we all know medicine is not black and white, you know, there is a risk associated with every procedure of doing it, of not doing it, of edit every medication, you know, taking it or not taking it.
So medicine is not black and white cares a risk with everything. So if a physician, if a patient does not like their physician, they’re more likely to sue them when things go wrong.
Daniel: Yeah. Yeah. And I, that kind of makes me think about the healthcare challenges, especially in primary care. I’m thinking like they’re getting squeezed hardcore with like the time per visit.
Yes. Aspect. And Yes. When you only get seven minutes per patient or whatever it. Like you got no relationship. I mean, it’s very, very, very difficult to build a relationship. And oftentimes that also makes it even more abrasive. May not only do you not have a relationship, but like there’s these abrasive points in the process.
Like, wait in the waiting room. Yes. And you know, maybe mean receptionists and then they see the physician, which has nothing to do with all that other junk in the system. Yeah. But they kind of tie it to the doctor cuz they don’t understand what’s going on and then they get the seven minute visit and they’re like, this is, and then something unexpected happens.
And then, yeah. I would say that amplifies it all too. Like the fact that our system is skewed towards volume and ma maximum volume at all times. It’s not skewed toward the relat.
Attorney Christine Zharova: Yeah, you are a hundred percent correct. And I hear that from physician clients. I hear that from my own phy treating physicians that the load or the expectation to see a very high number of patients, it’s interfering with their ability to be the best physician that they can be, right.
To practice medicine and the way that they want to practice medicine. And, you know, in addition to creating issues with the patient, because now you’re not able to establish that rapport. Now the patient feels like you’re rushing, right? In addition to all that, that also causes stress on the physician.
And we all know that stress is going to decrease, you know, your ability to be, you know, and it’s gonna, it’s going to impede on your ability to be the best, you know, to practice in the best way that you can practice. If you are unhappy, you’re not gonna be. Social as nice to another human being.
So it’s like a snowball effect along with the insurance component of it. Of course. And I know from speaking to you, you know, you have your doctors who do dps who have D P C practices versus physicians in your traditional practice of medicine. And in traditional practice of medicine, in addition to everything we talked about, there’s also the component of dealing with insurance and having to approve certain procedures and explain why you need it.
So it just, it’s a cluster to say the least.
Daniel: Yeah, it’s a mess. And I think I would be curious if statistics, I don’t know that they’re, these exist yet, but my suspicion is that direct care practices are getting sued far less than traditional practices because, Simply really because their patient panel is much smaller, so then therefore they get lots of time with ’em and relationship builds.
But I don’t know. I haven’t seen that.
Attorney Christine Zharova: Yeah, I haven’t, I know I was going to look at the statistics before today, but I forgot as well, and I’m happy to look it up afterwards and maybe it’s gotta be lower show notes, but I a hundred percent agree with you because you do have a less of a population of your patients.
You have better rapport, patients have better access to you, you know, they can access U via, you know, the text message, obviously confidential text message platform. And some physicians I know see patients at home. they’re being seen by the physician versus, you know, one of the staff members.
Nothing against staff members. Most patients want to see their physician, right? They want to see the individual with whom they’ve established care. So I a hundred percent agree when you have your own practice, when you get to see less patients and you get to spend more time with the patients, when you don’t have the additional stress of dealing with insurance issues it’s gonna be a better environment.
It’s going to be a better relationship. So I, I don’t have the statistics, but I bet $5
Daniel: you’re correct. You know? Yeah. I would go with $50. Yeah. But, you know, inflation the another thing too, I think I would suspect that burnout also amplifies it or makes, you know, if you’re struggling, stressed out, all that.
Also, I would think increases your chances. Yes. You know, in large numbers of people on average, I would think that increases your chances just cuz that’s makes it more difficult to, if it gets worse the worse it gets, it makes it more difficult to perform. Yes. And then you rub off on people negatively.
And yes, it’s going back to that original thing, like, I think, you know, the one thing you can do to. Reduce chances is have solid relationships with your patient. Right. It becomes difficult to have that Yeah. When you’re super stressed about work.
Attorney Christine Zharova: Yeah. And I think what you hit to on the head, if you think about it, it’s control, right?
In your professional practice of medicine, you lack that control. And we know from talking to lots of physicians, that is something that everyone is feeling in the industry, which is contributing to the burnout. It’s contributing to physicians fleeing the practice of medicine altogether. And when you have your own D P C practice, you kind of regain that control back.
You’re not a slave to a non-physician telling you how many patients you should be seeing and how quickly, how much time you’re spending, you know, you should be spending with the patient, so, a hundred percent.
Daniel: Yeah. It’s unfortunate. I wanted to talk about some of the ways to help reduce risks.
We already talked about, like, you know, relationship with your patients, but you can only go so far in that regard. What are some. If I’m like younger, like let’s say I’m just starting in practice and I’m like, listen to this. I’m like, yeah, I mean, 90% is pretty high. Like, I don’t want to get sued or, or.
You know, if it’s that high, it’s like, odds are I’m gonna get sued. but what can I do to prepare for it or like lessen the chances of it? Or I don’t know, like what are some preventative things we can start thinking about?
Attorney Christine Zharova: Yeah, I think documentation is huge. Obviously it can go both ways.
You want to make sure that the documentation that you are putting together on the patient reflects the history. It reflects, you know, what you observed what your assessment was, that there’s. Explanation for why you’re making certain recommendations. Like as an example let’s say you are increasing the dosage for a particular medicine to control pain, right?
You want to have an explanation that let’s say you tried physical therapy and that failed, you know, you tried cortisone shots and that was not alleviating the patient’s system symptoms, excuse me. So now you are increasing that medication dosage to this amount, something that’s going to help you in the event that you were sued to explain that thought process, you know, to explain that you were paying attention, you were getting the information you needed from the patient in order to make a particular decision.
So documentation is huge. You don’t wanna go overboard, right? But you wanna make sure that there is sufficient documentation to explain what you saw, what you did, and why you did. Communication is huge as well. Communication with your patient, communication with your staff members. You know, you wanna make sure, depending on what kind of a practice you have, if you have a private practice, that there are policies and procedures that everybody understands and follows In terms of like, you know, let’s say a patient called and left a message right, with the receptionist, right?
And then or left a message with the nurse. What’s the process for the nurse to communicate with the physician? You know, what’s the timeframe? Whereas it documented, you wanna make sure that kind of chain of communication is properly documented. Those are the two kind of things that come up in my mind.
As a way to prevent it. Your relationship with the patients. That’s, once again, that’s huge. You know, you’re not gonna spend an hour with each patient, most physicians won’t. Right. But you want to have enough time to where the patient feels like you’re listening to them, you’re not rushing them, and they have a chance to tell you what’s going on with them.
And you have a chance to process what’s going on and really, You know, formulate a plan and explain that plan or explain the different options to the patient in a timely fashion. You know, you wanna make sure that if there’s a treatment plan that’s surgical or carries kind of a higher risk of complications that you explain that to the patient, you know, that there’s a policy in how the patient consents to it.
Sometimes physicians will have, you know, multiple people get the consent or multiple people sign off on it, like the nurse and the patient, excuse me, and the physician along with the patient, right. Just to establish that there were multiple people that went through it, or there was more than just that one person in the room when you went through, you know, the risks associated with certain procedures.
And the complications that can occur.
Daniel: Those would be one of the, one of the things I think of. I don’t even know how possible that is. This is in the world of medicine, but I’m sure you’ve interacted with people where you just know, like in my business, we have the benefit, I guess, of being able to like we kind of pick who we work with.
It’s not like people just walk in. We get to go through some sort of a selection process and make sure we have a fit and all that stuff. And it’s nice cuz you get, you make sure you’re having, you have a good relationship in that on the front end. But I, in my conversation with tons and tons of people, every once in a while I’ll encounter somebody that, like, you can tell they’re kind of.
They got a chip on their shoulder and they’re like, I’ve even had people bring up that they’ve sued people in the past. And I’m, and it was like kind of a, I don’t know, it was just, I got a bad feeling and I have the nice benefit of being able to be like, I’m not gonna work with that person.
But like, can you fire patients?
Attorney Christine Zharova: You can fire patients. You wanna make sure you’re complying with your state laws and doing it, you know. But absolutely. I’ll give you an example. Most physicians that are sued, you know, after the lawsuit ends, the clinic will fire that patient.
Right? Hope so. You, I mean, you, you can’t have a good rapport. You cannot, you know, continue having a good relationship with your patient if your patient sued you. I don’t think it’s just, you know, it’s not a reasonable Yeah. Expectation. But yeah, you could, you could fire a patient, you know, you could be extra careful in how you document things, you know?
A lot of physicians will sort of push the ball, like they’ll refer them out, you know, cuz if it’s something that can be referred out, even though they can handle it, they’ll say, listen, you know, go to the specialist to check this out. So they’ll do that. But you wanna protect yourself, you know?
Depending on how big your practice is or what hospital you work with, you know, there’s risk management groups. So you can always talk to your risk management group. Additionally, most physicians and practices, you know, they have medical malpractice insurance, and you can contact your carrier and see if they have programs or they have a risk manager there you know, claims representative that you could speak with to get recommendations.
and if it’s something that is going to require legal advice, you know, some of the insurance companies will put you through to an attorney, right. That’s on their panel, on the insurance company’s panel. And you get to sort of talk to that person and get help. But I think you bring up a really good point.
You know, if you want to protect yourself and you’re not quite sure what to do, call your insurance company. Right. See if they have any recommendations. But don’t just stick your head in the sand and hope it goes away. Protect yourself. Be
Daniel: proactive. Yeah, I think there’s some fear in just calling the insurance company.
You’re like, oh. Or even telling anyone if you had like a dicey situation. I mean is it, I’m trying to imagine like what’s the scenario where I actually want to call the insurance company?
Attorney Christine Zharova: You know, for example, if you’re saying I’m not comfortable with this patient, you know, this patient was aggressive to me and like, I just wanna make sure that we terminate our relationship correctly.
Yeah. You know, I don’t know the law on this. Alternatively and I com completely understand people are hesitant to call their carriers cuz you don’t want like your premiums to be jacked up, right. Or be there on the black on their blacklist. You can call a healthcare lawyer. I mean, you can call me right?
In Florida. I can give legal advice I can do general consults for other states, you know, if it’s not if it doesn’t fall within the scope. Assessing the law of that state. So there’s other attorneys that you can call if it’s something that you don’t want your insurance carrier to to know about.
And I’ve done plenty of that for physicians that reach out and, you know, if I can help.
Daniel: Yeah. Attorney would probably be the best and they can make sure you’re craft, you’re wording it in a, you know, appropriate way and the Yep. Some of the best. So, you know, the good attorneys that I’ve worked with are very professional and like they’re not like hateful. You would, if you haven’t worked with attorneys, you think sometimes there’s this impression that they’re gonna be angry and mean and, but like the good ones are respectful and like almost like loving in their wording. It’s a, yeah. They’re just very good with words. Yes.
And putting them together so that it’s like said in a nice way and something I could, I’m not. Close to even skilled enough to be able to convey that sort of meaning. So I think in, in any time things get dicey, that’s where, you know, it’s helpful to have attorneys involved. Now, if you’re to like a big, giant hospital I think you would probably have to talk to some people with the hospital or administrators. Yeah. And I don’t know how receptive they would be to that, but I would imagine if they could be,
Attorney Christine Zharova: I think that they are, because you have to remember if a physician who is employed by the hospital is sued, the hospital is gonna get sued as well, right?
So risk management for most hospitals will be, I mean, in my experience, risk management’s at the hospital is very receptive. they’re going to give guidance and they’re gonna handle it. So if a termin termination letter is going to be sent to a patient, it’s not gonna be a physician that signs it.
It’s gonna be, you know, from their neurology department or whatever. You know what I mean? It’s gonna be from their department. And they know how to, they’ve likely handled that and done that in the past, so they have form letters. Or if there’s something specific that they’re not sure about. And once again, they wanna make sure they’re not violating any laws.
They’re gonna reach to their counsel because every attorney, you know, they have different counsel that they use for litigation or transactional stuff. So they’ll handle that. So I would strongly urge anyone who is like, you know, I’m not sure how to handle this. I’m not comfortable. I’m concerned about the possibility of litigation to, to talk to the rest management
Yeah. Especially if there’s warning signs. If you’re just like getting these feelings that you’re like, eh, this is, yeah, they’re the. Type of person that’s adversarial or whatever. And like me, my person I’m thinking of, like, they had said they’d sued multiple people in the past. I’m like, if you’ve sued people in the past, like you’re probably.
Pretty litigious open into doing it. Litigious is the right word. Yep. Yep. And that’s, that’s probably not a good thing. Yeah. But, what, how does it work when you. Sued. I don’t like What’s the first thing ha that happens when you get sued? So
Attorney Christine Zharova: it depends on what state you’re in. If you are in Florida statutorily, we have a statutory framework that has to be followed and it’s a, so before you can even file a lawsuit, there are several steps that the attorney who will be bringing a lawsuit on behalf of the patient or the family members has to get through.
And basically they have to send a letter that sets forth what they believe occurred that was negligent, how it caused the. Well to whoever, like if it’s to, to the clinic, for example, the physician directly, if it’s a solar physician or the hospital. So they will serve the pre-suit letter that outlines what they believe happened and how that caused whatever the injuries are.
And that letter has to be accompanied by a corroborating affidavit of an expert who is in the same or substantially similar specialty as you are. So if the lawsuit is against a primary care physician, you know, the accompanying affidavit has to be from a primary care physician versus an internal medicine physician.
Right? If a lawsuit is against a cardiologist, you need a cardiologist to corroborate what your position is and what you believe the physician did wrong. So
Daniel: basically it’s like, here’s, we’re suing you. And here’s why. And we’ve got an expert in your area that’s agreeing with us or confirming this.
Attorney Christine Zharova: And it doesn’t have to be in your area. In Florida, the expert can be anywhere. So as long
Daniel: as they, I guess I meant like your specialty when I say that. Your specialty. Yeah. Correct. And it could be anywhere in the country.
Attorney Christine Zharova: Correct. Exactly. And so then they have 90 day time period within which you do an investigation.
So the other side, the physician, you know, the physician’s attorney or the risk management has an opportunity to complete an investigation of the claims. And during that process, there is the physician’s team will hire corroborating expert or an expert to look at the allegations, to review the medical records and to give opinions as to whether or not they believe the physician was in.
Breach the standard of care in causing those injuries. Sometimes you need two separate physicians, physician experts, like, if the standard of care issue is different from causation, right? Like there’s two specialties involved. So sometimes you have more than one expert to corroborate the physician’s position that there was no breach in the standard of care, that they were not negligent or that they did not cause the injury.
And during that 90 day process in Florida we exchange informal discovery in the forms of questions. So you ask questions of the patient the patient gets to ask you questions. There’s usually unsworn statements that are done, which is just parties get together, there’s a court reporter.
The physician questions about what happened, what they did, why they did it, and then the physician’s lawyer will also do the same with the patient or the patient’s family members to figure out exactly what the claims are gonna be, what the damages are, you know, how is the patient doing now does the patient, is the patient going to claim that they had some communication with the physician that makes pH physician look bad?
You know what I mean? Things that you may not necessarily glean from the letter, the pre-suit letter that sets forth what the patient thinks he did wrong, and the from corroborating affidavit, there could be additional information the patient has. That’s not gonna be identified in that letter and in the affidavit.
So you want to find that out before lawsuit happens. And then the framework every state is different, but in Florida, you know, you could either deny the, which is what happens in most cases. You could make an offer to settle or you could agree to arbitrate the case. So, you know, once that 90 day period is done then the patient can bring the lawsuit, but the patient in Florida cannot file a formal lawsuit until they engage in this investigatory
Do you know if other states ha, do most states have that like. Pre-trial or pre-law pre soon.
Attorney Christine Zharova: A lot of them do. Yeah. But I also know there are states that don’t, and that’s where it gets, you know, that’s where you hear stories of a physician having, you know, dinner with their family for Thanksgiving and there’s a knock on the door and there’s a process server who’s like, Dr.
Jones, I’m so sorry, hear this. Right. And you get served and they’re like, oh my gosh, what just happened? That’s garbage. And they feel like, yeah, but that’s what happens a lot. I know. So it’s like, and then what ends up happening, and this is something I wanna mention a physician gets this lawsuit, right?
And there’s these allegations of what they did wrong. And these words that sound so bad and they start to, to feel like, oh my gosh, like I did this, or I’m being accused of this. And they read this document as like, you know, some authority. Meanwhile, it’s a complaint drafted by a lawyer. Most of the stuff in it is form.
It’s not, you know, something specifically against you. Now we’ll contain a factual background, right, of what you’ve done wrong, but you have to remember the legal terms used by the lawyer, right? We draft, we put that in the complaint to make sure it passes the muster of not getting kicked out. So it’s really a procedural vehicle to bring a lawsuit in.
And even the affidavit of an expert, right? You physicians may look at it, be like, oh my gosh, Dr. Jones, who is also a urologist in New Jersey, thinks that I did X, Y, Z. Most of the time the affidavit is drafted by a lawyer. Now it’s done with the assistance of the expert based on their opinions, but it’s drafted by a lawyer.
So, you know, one comment that I have for lots of physicians is, don’t think of it as, you know, this document that was prepared by a colleague of yours, right? It, it has to be framed in a certain way to pass the legal muster. So don’t take it personally.
Daniel: Yeah, I imagine I’d take it personally when I just, cuz it’s like somebody, it, they want you to, I think, I mean even that’s how it’s, I don’t know, it feels like it would be designed to do that.
And the other thing too is the person writing it is also getting paid by, it’s like they’re on the team of the person filing the lawsuit. Oh yeah. So it’s like, like the other team, I mean, it’s not like the police, that’s the other thing. I think there’s maybe this conception, it’s like a neutral party or it’s already been reviewed by the court or whatever.
I’m sure there is some sort of, I mean, can you just send a law in, even in the states where there’s no pre-trial thing, like how how do they file a lawsuit? Can they just like straight up. Sue anybody or,
Attorney Christine Zharova: yeah, I think in states now, I don’t, I can’t give it legal, you know, advice or even, because I’ve been researched this for every state, but basically they just file a lawsuit just like you would in a car accident in case, you know, their lawsuit gets
But it’s not that difficult. I guess what I’m trying to say is it’s not that difficult to file a lawsuit. It’s
Attorney Christine Zharova: not, no. Right. I mean, you just file a lawsuit, you have to file a fi, you have to pay a filing fee. you prepare the, you draft the complaint, you file it with the court, you know, with the court, and then you pay whatever the filing fee is, and then you pay the process server or the share for whatever it is in your state to serve it on on the physician.
with hospitals well, I mean, at least in Florida, based on my experience, when a physician who is employed by the hospital, you know, when they’re sued, the hospital will accept the. The summons and the complaint on their behalf. So it doesn’t, it’s not as personal, you know, a lot of times an attorney can accept the lawsuit on your behalf too, which I strongly recommend.
you know, even in Florida, if you are aware that a lawsuit is gonna happen, because we have this statutory period, so it’s gonna put you on notice that a lawsuit is likely happening during that timeframe. You will be assigned a lawyer and you could ask that lawyer to accept service of the complaint should be served on your behalf.
So you don’t have to deal with the embarrassment of being served at your office. Yeah. You know, at a restaurant or wherever. And, you know, Daniel, if we can go back to something, this whole concept of. The lawsuit’s feeling personal and I a hundred percent, a hundred percent understand why it would, right?
I’m a lawyer. Lawyers get sued, but not to that same, you know, level of frequency that physicians get sued. But if I got sued, I’d imagine that it would be very personal. Never have been knock on wood, but I’m sure it would be very personal. So I don’t fault physicians for feeling that way. The words of wisdom that I would, or the recommendation that I would have is that by, if you can overcome that feeling and if you can work through it, and if you could make it not personal, that’s going to help you succeed in your lawsuit.
Now, when I say succeed, I don’t mean a hundred percent winning the lawsuit. What I say when I say succeed, what I mean is the way that it affects you, the way that the lawsuit, which is a very lengthy marathon of a process. The way it affects you on a personal level as, as a human, as a parent, as a, you know, a, a son or a daughter as a professional, and as you know, the way it affects how you view yourself.
How you view who you are as a physician, how you view your abilities, how you start thinking about what you want from your future. What I see with physicians is this tendency, you know, when a lawsuit happens and because it’s so long, it wears you down. You know, in the beginning you’re maybe like, it’s fine, but as the years roll by and you know, every time you get that email from your lawyer or your risk manager and you gotta be prepped for your deposition, and then your deposition gets canceled and you gotta be re prepped again, and you have to go to trial and it gets continued, then you gotta go to trial again.
That is very, like, it wears on physicians, right? And if they never overcome that feeling of. Treating it as personal, it’s going to wear on you more. And it really it’s a toxic feeling that permeates every fiber of your existence. And it’s going to, whether you realize it or not, it’s going to affect every aspect of your life, you know, and some of the work that I’ve been doing with physicians on the coaching side is helping them, you know, overcome that so they don’t get to it.
You know, so they don’t, they don’t, they can get through that, but you don’t need a coach. You know, you, once again, you can go
Daniel: to a, a fight, but a coach might be good. Yeah. I mean, that might be the best. That might be a fantastic time. When you’re at a point in life where it’s like turning point, you could go one way or the other.
A coach could be Absolutely would. I would say a coach would be excellent. That’s the time. If you. Work with a coach. To work with a coach.
Attorney Christine Zharova: Yeah, I agree. Having somebody objective that has knowledge in how lawsuits, you know, roll out in different stages of lawsuits and what it causes to be very
Yeah. Especially if they have experience. I mean like your services and where you’re at. Like if I’m, if I was in that point in that scary initial phase of lawsuit and I had relationship with you, you’re the first person I’m gone. I’m like, I got the letter. Like I need, yeah. I need help.
Cuz you know, you need somebody that, so you have the coaching experience and you have the malpractice experience working through the claims. Yeah. And that’s, that’s a huge benefit. But like, I think what can be, I haven’t gone through this, but I feel like there could also be a tendency, maybe that’s not the natural tendency people have.
Maybe the natural tendency is like people are like, I’m gonna bury my head in the sand or like I’m gonna like fake it till I make it, or like I’m just gonna not pay attention to this and like set it aside and do nothing about it. Yes. Or only the minimum required, maybe. Yes.
Attorney Christine Zharova: Yeah, a hundred percent. I’ve seen all of that and it’s neg, it definitely has a huge negative effect on how you perform in your lawsuit and the results of that lawsuit.
Because here’s what I can tell you when physicians are on it, when they establish a good rapport with their attorney and they are active and proactive in their lawsuit, they know the medical records. They’re talking to their lawyer about what they’re concerned about or you know, talking through things.
What ends up happening, Daniel, in every case, is they realize like that reinforc. Their enlightenment that they did nothing wrong. Right? Because every time you see facts, cuz you’re going through those medical records and you’re like, no, I didn’t breach the standard of care. No, this was correct. Here’s what I knew.
Here’s the decision that I made. Here’s the recommendation that I made. Here’s where I talk to the patient. You know, when they start to see and put together all those facts, it reinforces their understanding that they did not breach the standard of care. And that is the most, one of the most helpful things you could do for yourself.
You know, it’s, otherwise if you stick your head in the sand and you don’t hold the records, I mean, defense attorneys, medical malpractice defense attorneys, we understand medicine. But you are the best expert in that case. It’s not the other attorney, it’s not the other expert. It’s not your lawyer, it’s you because you are the only person that was there and you are the only person you know, you’re the only person that has.
The medical qualifications, right, the medical experience and background and personal knowledge of that patient. No one else treated that patient. No one else saw that patient. No one else truly has the entire picture that you do because you were the one that had a physical, you know, contact with the patient.
So, you know, you have to remember that.
Daniel: So, yeah. I think the other thing I’d do when I got the letter is I’d, if I hadn’t done this already a lot before, I would go to my malpractice insurance and I’d be like, oh yeah, I’m gonna read this thing. Yeah,
Attorney Christine Zharova: yeah. No, absolutely. If you get served, you know, in Florida for solo practitioners, if they receive a letter like that, they have to contact their carrier right away.
That’s like the number one thing. Call your carrier if you don’t know who your carrier is. Figure out who your broker is. Figure out which company you’ve been paying medical malpractice insurance to. You know, you should have a deck sheet that shows the coverage and the name of your insurance carrier.
Daniel: them item way. But if you work at a hospital, you could get their policy that covers you.
Attorney Christine Zharova: So the hospitals, they have oftentimes they have a self-insured retention. it’s basically they ensure they self-insure up to a certain point, and then they’ll have excess insurance coverage on top of that.
So in a hospital setting, usually the letters will go to the hospital directly and it will be the hospital letting call. The risk management team will call you and say, Hey, Dr. Jones, we got this letter. Come have a meeting so we can talk about it.
Daniel: But you can get a ahold of their policies. Right. I mean,
Attorney Christine Zharova: Well, if it’s a self-insured retention, it’s basically the hospital is paying for everything.
They would be paying for the defense fees and they’re also paying for any, you know, settlement award, negotiated award or judgment up to a certain point.
Daniel: Right. I guess, I mean, I guess at minimum I would just want to understand it. Like I would want to know, like are there situations or exclusions where I could potentially be liable in some instance?
And maybe the only answer to that is like, fraud or, I don’t know, some crime or something like that. Yeah. But I would still wanna know those. And then I would also wanna know like, what’s the limit of your you know, and how does it work? Or is there anything in between? And that, I mean, if you have your own practice, you go pull out your policy and it’s like a written.
Attorney Christine Zharova: yeah, yeah. Those are the questions you could pose to your risk management team if you are, you know, work at a hospital. The nice part about working in a hospital is that their self-insured retention is usually really high, and then they have excess limits on top of that. So unless it’s a criminal act like battery assault, you know, or something like fraud or something like that where they may say there’s no coverage for that criminal act, you know, you’re not gonna be on the hook personally.
Also, at least in Florida. What our carriers and our hospital, not our carriers, excuse me. What our hospital would try to do for its employee physicians is to get their name get them dismissed before the case is over. Right? Because ultimately it comes from the same pocket of money and that way.
Nobody has to contact, you know, nobody has to report that there was a lawsuit against a physician. You’ll have to disclose it, you know, you may have to disclose it, but nobody has to deport it to the database. Data bank, the practitioner data bank that there was a lawsuit filed. And, you know, especially like your residents, residents get sued all the time, right?
Like, the last thing you want as a resident to have the lawsuit pending over your head and then the party settling or going to trial, and you’re still a name party. So that is something nice that hospitals try to do for their employee physicians.
Daniel: Yeah. I guess that it, that, that’s a perk to working at a large system.
Yes. Yes. I would love it if you could share some of, I mean, maybe you can’t do this, but like, I, I would, I love stories and if there’s stories that come to mind. You know, success stories or challenges. I think there’s all kinds of experiences we can learn fr from other people ideally.
You know, that’s how we learn. Yeah. Have you had some stories that you’re able to share or maybe like, you know, taking out personal info, but like stories of people that, that really come to mind as far as like people that like were able to work through that in a positive light or, you know, lessons learned, that kind of thing?
Attorney Christine Zharova: Lemme think about that. So,
Daniel: stories, particularly like the malpractice thing, and I mean, I can, I have examples of people that we’ve worked with that I know, that have had challenges with it. Like, one thing that comes to mind for us is like, there is seems to be this fear of like, not wanting to talk about.
cuz so we’re the financial planner and we’ve had people we work with have lawsuits. And I feel like there’s this, as soon as they get that lawsuit, somebody somewhere tells them, I think not to talk to anybody. Yeah. And maybe they don’t say it that away, but like, so we hear of it and they’re like, yeah, but I, I can’t really say much about it.
Yeah. And that seems weird to me cuz I’m like, you gotta be able to talk to somebody and like, you really can’t talk to anybody. Like, how does that work and why is that happening?
Attorney Christine Zharova: Yeah. So it’s true. So your, when you are sued, your defense attorney is going to tell you do not speak to anyone about your lawsuit.
And the reason why they say that is because anything about your lawsuit that you’re discussing with a non-lawyer is discoverable, right? The reason that the information that you talk to your lawyer about is not discoverable is because there’s attorney-client privilege, right. However what most attorneys, I don’t think it’s intentional.
I think they just don’t realize it. But what most attorneys don’t realize is that physicians need to understand the difference between talking about matters and things that are in fact, attorney client privilege, right. Talking about the specifics of the case in terms of liability exposure, you know, strategy versus how you feel about the case, right?
Yeah. That’s something that is not attorney-client privilege, how it’s affecting you as a, as a person, as a professional. That’s also not attorney client privilege. That’s just the fact that the lawsuit has on you that has no relevance to the case. That’s not something you need to ever talk about to the other side.
Daniel: So there’s that. People lock it all up. They lock up, yeah. The whole thing. Like the, yeah, so they’re like I can’t share emotions or feelings or, Yeah. Anything, period. Yeah. About it, and then Correct. That’s not healthy.
Attorney Christine Zharova: I’ve worked with a lot of physicians who come to me and they’re talking about, they’re concerned about how there are cases being handled and they just want some consulting.
They want like a second set of eyes on it, right? That’s another thing too, is, is not everyone, not every physician gets a, establishes a good rapport or gets an attorney that they, you know, communicate well with. And sometimes you may question, you know, should I be, should I keep on with this case?
Like, is this really what’s done? I’ll give you an example. One physician that came to me she was really concerned because her policy, I think was a million dollars and the demand was like 10 million. So the exposure potentially was really, really high. She didn’t end up going to her mediation for whatever reason she was excused, which can happen.
But in a case where the demand is so high and your policy limits are only a million dollars, like she should have been encouraged to go to the mediation to know what’s going on,
Daniel: who didn’t know. The attorney didn’t go
Attorney Christine Zharova: the, the, no, the physician. So the physician that was sued did not end up going to the mediation where it’s, you know, proceeding where you tried to resolve the case.
Daniel: And yeah. And it would probably be best practice to go to that, especially given the circumstance. Correct. It
Attorney Christine Zharova: depends, you know, I’ve had physicians excused for, from medical, from, excuse me, for mediations, like in my hospital cases. But if you are in a smaller practice, especially when you’re facing a demand for 10 million, but your coverage is only a million.
Right. they’re trying to get more money of you out of you than you have coverage for. You really wanna stay on top of that lawsuit. You really wanna know what’s going on. Yeah. And so she ended up not going to her mediation. And she was so concerned. It was like eating her alive every day.
You know, she was just thinking and circling back on, oh my gosh, what’s gonna happen? You know, are they gonna take this to trial? And am I going to be dealing with an excess verdict, you know, an excess of my limits? And she didn’t realize that she could make a demand on her insurance company to settle the case within the policy limits because, She learned later that was an option.
So she learned later that during mediation, the attorney for the patient was willing to accept her policy limits, but she wasn’t there. And so her carrier said, no. So this poor physician lived with that for ye for, you know, whatever months or a year afterwards, not realizing that she, as their insured could make a demand on the
Oh, the, the physician themselves could have accepted that. Yeah.
Attorney Christine Zharova: So, so, no. So the physician herself could have made a demand on her insurance company to settle for the policy limits. And what happens is, if you make that demand, and if the insurance company does not settle for policy limits, then any verdict in excess of the policy, the insurance companies on the hook for, because it’s called bad faith.
So if your insurance company could have resolved the matter within the policy limits, right, they have a duty to protect you and to resolve. The matter within the policy limits, right? If they fail to do that and you make a demand for them to do that, and they don’t do it, now, they’re on the hook for, it’s called bad faith, okay?
So now they’re responsible for whatever amount, you know, of the judgment in excess of the policy limits. Most doctors don’t know that. So there are certain things that you have to do as a physician to properly communication.
Daniel: Who should have carrier, who should. So the attorney who’s, who dropped the ball on that, was it the
Attorney Christine Zharova: attorney?
To me. So in, in my practice, if a physician, let’s say there’s a demand that’s above the policy limits in a non-hospital case, right? And let’s say they have coverage for a million, and now you have, you know, significant damages because let’s say it’s a child who survived and needs a lot of medical treatment and their parents and to take care of that child or whatever, right?
So the damages could be really high. And if I have a physician who’s really worried about the case and is like, I want it settled, I’m concerned that I’m gonna be on the hook for excess damages, I would tell that physician that you have the ability to go higher. Personal counsel. And that personal counsel who has experience in medical malpractice will write a letter to the insurance company.
It’s called a hammer letter. And they will demand that, you know, if you have the ability to settle this case within the policy limits, we hereby demand that you do so and protect the physician who’s your insured, because a carrier has a good faith obligation to protect their insureds. So, I, you know, in, in that particular example, if she was my physician who I was defending in a medical malpractice lawsuit, and if she was so concerned about what she was concerned about, I would tell her go talk to a higher personal counsel, have them review it and have them send a letter to the insurance company.
Because. Your medical malpractice insurance attorney, they’re hired by the carrier. So the insurance carrier pays their bills, but it’s you, the physician and it’s your practice who we have a responsibility to. We have a duty to you. We don’t have, I mean, we have a duty to your insurance company because they hired us.
But you are our client. It’s not the insurance company. So while I wouldn’t be able to write a letter like that to the insurance company because they hired me in my mind, I have a duty to tell my client that you can do that. You just need to go hire another attorney.
Daniel: Yeah. And my skeptical side would be like, I don’t trust the insurance company attorney.
Well, I mean, I would be skeptical of. Or I know there’s bias or incentives and, you know, stuff people don’t always work perfectly in your interest. And so, you know, I could see it being tempting in any case to get a second opinion or especially when it’s big numbers you’re talking about.
Attorney Christine Zharova: Yeah. You know, in, in my practice and in my prior firm’s practice, I don’t think we ever, you know, we were never concerned about that because once again, the duty is to the client, and the client is the physician in their practice.
And, you know, all that I’m really advising is you have a concern and you have the right to go to another attorney and discuss with that other attorney if it makes sense for you to send a hammer letter, right? You know, if a carrier called me out on that I’d say that’s my, you know, my responsibility is to tell the client they have that right.
What they do with it is up to them. I’m not doing anything that is, you know, That hurts the, I mean, it’s really, to me, I’m not doing anything that’s in conflict with either the insurance company or the physician. Right. But I do have that obligation. I think some attorneys don’t, I don’t know, maybe they don’t know that I may, if they’re a young attorney, they may not fully know that.
Yeah. You know, I mean, maybe some attorneys do have concern that if they tell that to the physician, the insurance carrier’s gonna know that it was the defense attorney that, you know,
Daniel: advised I, they’re like, we’re never ironing you again. Yeah. But it
Attorney Christine Zharova: shouldn’t be that
Daniel: way. I mean, I mean, it, it shouldn’t, but like, you know, yeah.
Attorney Christine Zharova: People can be, right. I mean, I think most, most medical insurance carriers that I’ve worked with, I mean, they’re very, they did do things in good faith. They’re very good with their physicians. They care about their physicians. So, like the carriers that I have worked with, I can’t see them getting upset about that at all.
They know what the deal is. They know I have a duty to the client, you know, but, Are there carriers that are not like that? I’m sure there are. you know, I’ve just been fortunate enough to work with great carriers that care about
Daniel: their insurance. Yeah. I think I, I’ve seen some statistics before kind of along these lines of like, you know, the statistics of lawsuits are really high.
Like a lot of the, you know, high majority physicians get sued, but then it’s a pretty big jump downward of lawsuits that actually pay, money to the person suing or the patient. And then the big number cases are a much lower number from that, I don’t know the statistics. I just remember seeing a visual of all of it, and it was like shocking how.
Like the big, huge scary ones. As soon as you get the letter, you think about the big, huge scary number. You’re like, I gotta pay millions of dollars and, you know, it’s gonna be terrible. And that’s, you know, I mean, those things happen, but like, the percentage of those that actually play out is a pretty low number, right?
Attorney Christine Zharova: Yeah. So actually lemme pull up my, some of the stats that I have saved in my computer here. So, okay, so 99% of physicians in high risk specialties will be sued by 65. And then 75% physicians in low risk specialties will be sued by 65. And then based on the data collected between 1991 and 2005, which is a little bit old, but only 22% of claims.
Result in payments to claimants. So out of all the lawsuits that you know, are filed, only 22% of them get paid on, which means that they’re dropped or they go to trial and the physician wins. The, you know, the jury’s, the jury verdict is in favor of the physician. What’s really interesting is that most pH physicians will spend 10 to 25% of their career in litigation.
That kind of goes back to what I was saying, that it’s such a lengthy process that wears you down, that whatever you do, you know, the recommendation that I have is find whatever it is that you need to help you through it. That’s insane. So, like your, it’s insane. Like your neurosurgeons, right? High risk specialties will likely have more than one lawsuit in their lives.
And so when they whatever research was done on it, when they compound it all together, 25% of their careers will be spent litigating Yeah. And defending themselves, which is, that’s nice. Really tough. A tough profession. Yeah. Yeah.
Daniel: Yeah. Well that’s where, so you’re I want, as we wrap up, I know we’re running out of time, but I wanted to talk about some of the stuff you’re doing and particularly I know you have your law firm and that sort of thing, but, can you tell us about some of, I know you’re helping with some coaching and that’s kind of something you’ve been working on. If you could tell us about that, that’d be awesome.
Attorney Christine Zharova: Sure. So I actually, you know, recently I’ve decided that I’m still coaching physicians, but that I would like to also help physic.
If they’re starting their own practices, I think that more and more physicians wanna go that way. I think there’s a need to have someone that you can talk to through things, can learn about the law in your state. And so I’m also helping on that side of it. And it could be from helping to, you know, looking at a, a lease agreement, for example, with a physical, you know, if you’re trying to lease space and you have a lease agreement a lot of times physicians will just sign off on it, which is not the way to go. You want an attorney to look at it and to kind of guide you through it and tell you where the pitfalls are. You know, helping physicians review their contract, their employment contract for non-com, you know, in the non-com.
Their employment contract as it relates to their non-compete provision. And other provisions that may affect their ability to start their own practices. And then once they start their own practices, helping them create documents, you know, for that practice and navigate the system. So in addition to that, I also coach physicians.
I coach physicians on general issues, and I also coach physicians that are going through Department of Health complaints or they’re in a lawsuit. So, you know, a combination, you know, I’d like to help. I like to help in whatever way that I can. I’ve been doing it for a long time, and I’m just thinking of other ways where I can use my experience, my expertise, and continued doing so in a larger, you know, in, in
Daniel: a larger way.
Yeah. I imagine there’s a lot of people I didn’t, well, you just said the statistic. apparently a very large percentage of people. Going through active lawsuits. and I think that would be a super valuable like we were saying earlier, like to have a coach that has experience with that would be super valuable.
Absolutely. You know, just kind of working through it. Cuz it’s like psychologically tough. I mean, like, that’s not a pleasant experience by any means. Correct. Correct. Do you do that in all states or are you just, I know your law practice is florida only or is Yeah.
Attorney Christine Zharova: Yeah. Florida only. Coaching, yes.
I can do that in any state that in any state. because it’s not giving legal advice. Right. We don’t talk about the specifics of your case, what your lawyer is doing, legal analysis, exposure and that kind of stuff. And one thing that I wanna mention too, you know, sometimes people have this like negative view on coaching.
You don’t have to sign up for a year package, right? You could just get a couple of coaching sessions and see if that helps you or get them as needed, you know, sometimes. You know, you are, it becomes more stressful at certain parts in litigation. You know, it may be in the beginning, it may be as you’re preparing for your deposition or before trial or before mediation.
And you wanna make sure like you, you owe it to yourself to be on your best mental game. And I mean, physicians are so smart, you know your stuff, right? And the only reason why you may not perform to the best of your abilities during certain parts of litigation like a deposition is because your mental game is off.
And so, you know what, like I said, whether it’s a coach, whether it’s somebody else, but get the help that you need to feel like prepared to feel strong, to feel like, you know what? I can take this. I know I’ve done nothing wrong. I’ve reviewed my records, I know my stuff. I’m going to go into the deposition, tell the truth, and explain what I did and why I did it in a cohesive, coherent fashion.
And feel good about doing it.
Daniel: Yeah, that’s like going into a high performance athletic event. It’s like you’re going into like the World Series, you know, it would be, it’s super important to have a good coach and probably even like, you know, tailored to the situation. And that’s what I mean, athletes do it all the time, but I absolutely,
Attorney Christine Zharova: and doctors don’t, and no one prepares ’em for it, right?
Like they have no training. You know, I wrote an article for Kevin md analogizing medical malpractice lawsuits to running a marathon, but marathoners are prepared to run it. And they get coaching and they get support. Physicians are not prepared to go through litigation and then they don’t get the support going through it.
And that’s the part that needs to change at some.
Daniel: Yeah. Yeah. Especially at that point in your life, that’s like, like I was saying, if you haven’t had coaching before, like if anything, like that’s the time where you really need to get it. I’m a fan of it. I think it’s valuable at any point in your life. Yes.
But if any time, if you haven’t gotten it, like when that sort of event happens, it’s super important. Where can people find you information on you or reach out to you with questions or that sort of thing? Absolutely. I mean,
Attorney Christine Zharova: if you just Google my name, Christine Zba Z H a r o v a, you could find me on my law firm’s website.
I also have the med mail game, which is my coaching website on LinkedIn. I’m pretty active on LinkedIn. I haven’t been in a while, but I checked my LinkedIn page so you could always reach out via the direct message on LinkedIn. And like I said, I’m happy to help in whatever way that I can, you know, if I can’t help you, I’ll let you know if I can help you quickly or not quickly, you know what I mean?
I’m happy to help in whatever way. And yeah. So, you know, anytime anybody needs anything, I’m here.
Daniel: I appreciate what you’re doing. You’re doing great work and thank you. I appreciate you coming on today to talk through this. I know there’s a lot within this we’ve kind of hit the tip of the ice iceberg.
. I appreciate you chatting with me today, Christine. Yeah,
Attorney Christine Zharova: thank you so much, Daniel, for having me. It was a pleasure talking to you as always, and, happy to help.