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Program Information

Professional Liability and Risk Management in Medical Physics Practice


G Sherouse

D Jordan

J Masten




G Sherouse1*, D Jordan2*, J Masten3*, (1) Landauer Medical Physics, Glenwood, IL, (2) University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Cleveland, OH, (3) Aspirus Wausau Hospital, Wausau, WI

WE-C-137-1 Wednesday 10:30AM - 11:25AM Room: 137

Medical physicists can be exposed to significant liability risks when performing clinical duties. The nature and extent of such exposure is not always as clear to physicists as it is to physicians. The legal questions involved in resolving a case or claim involving patient harm are complex and are seldom governed according to common sense expectations.

Whether a physicist is employed by a hospital or healthcare provider or functions independently as a contractor or consultant, the first line of defense against liability risk is contract negotiation. In this process, the physicist has the opportunity to establish a respectful, collaborative relationship with an employer or client while laying out clear rules and expectations for the handling of any incidents. Much legal, financial, and professional trouble can be avoided by handling this process carefully. This session explores methods and principles for establishing good relationships and contracts.

Should a lawsuit occur, it is important to have a basic understanding of civil procedure and the “anatomy” of a professional liability case. This session will review common legal terminology and present examples from seminal cases that are used as the basis of many liability and malpractice cases today. In the event that a physicist is named as a defendant in a lawsuit, he or she should be well-informed about the expected sequence of events and how they relate to the overall outcome of the case.

Professional liability insurance is a useful tool to provide protection to an individual physicist’s personal assets and income in the event of a lawsuit, and especially after an adverse legal decision or settlement. The choice of the appropriate amount and type of protection is an individual and complicated decision. Some employers of physicists also provide coverage to their employees, and the nature and extent of this coverage can be challenging to understand fully. This session discusses the common features and aspects of professional liability insurance products to enable the clinical medical physicist to evaluate their own situation and to choose an appropriate product for their needs.

Learning objectives:
1. Describe a strategy for medical physicists to minimize liability risk by establishing and negotiating healthy contract relationships with employers or clients.
2. Recognize the common elements of civil procedure and explain how they are impacted by typical clinical medical physics activities, such as quality control and recordkeeping.
3. Evaluate commercial professional liability insurance offerings in the context of a physicist’s personal asset and income protection needs and practice type and setting.


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