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When Good Doctors Get Sued - 2nd Edition A Guidebook for Defendant Physicians Involved in Malpractice



An informed and well-prepared witness is a powerful adversary. This “how-to” handbook helps doctors and other healthcare professionals get ready for a deposition or trial by building and improving skills in the areas of listening, identifying potential traps, answering questions, and coping with litigation stress. If you find the legal system frustrating, idiosyncratic and intimidating, this handbook is better than two aspirin and a morning call. No doctor should face an opposing attorney without it.



Facing a lawsuit is a frightening and confusing event in anyone’s life, but particularly so for doctors being accused of causing harm to those they are pledged to help. Often professionally embarrassed, angered by accusations of incompetence or neglect, and fearful of possible repercussions, many medical professionals believe they have few places to turn for the practical advice, help, and support they need during the litigation process. This book is intended to help fill that need.


At least some of the anxiety surrounding a lawsuit comes from uncertainty and confusion about the process. Defendant doctors have many questions: What is the best way to deal with aggressive cross-examination? What will I be asked at my deposition? Will I have to be in the courtroom during the entire trial? Who will be on the jury? Should I wear my scrubs or a suit? This book answers those and many more questions.



This guidebook is not intended to be a primer on the legal system, nor does it give legal advice. It is a resource to help healthcare professionals be the most effective witnesses they can be at a hearing, deposition, or trial. Chapters cover such key issues as:


  • Basic anatomy of a malpractice lawsuit
  • Active listening for lawyer traps
  • When and why patients sue their providers
  • Answering difficult questions
  • Coping with the emotional toll of being sued
  • Preparing for and going to trial
  • The form and content of a deposition
  • Question and answer practice


Although the book refers to “defendant doctors” or “physicians,” the intended audience includes nurses, physician assistants, midwives, therapists, and others who have professional liability for patient care. The guidebook is also recommended reading for spouses and partners of defendants, expert medical witnesses, defense attorneys, insurance representatives, risk managers, and medical residents.



“ . . . an excellent instrument for physicians to prepare themselves to defend against malpractice lawsuits at a time when one in four doctors can expect to be sued. Well-written, instructional, timely, it is a solid primer that gives the physician a strong edge in the tricky, combative arena of malpractice litigation. This book is a potential resource for every practicing physician.” - RICHARD ANDERSON, M.D., F.A.C.P. Chairman of the Board, The Doctors’ Company


“ . . . a valuable guide for the physician involved in a malpractice lawsuit. Forewarned in forearmed and this little gem fulfills its stated purpose.” - ROBERT F. GOAD, M.D. Chief of Anesthesiology, Mason General Hospital


“This book teaches the physician and other health professionals, in a clearly written and well-organized guidebook, how to help their lawyer protect them from the real and imaginary dangers of the legal system.” - RICHARD A. MORIN, M.D. American Society of Addiction Medicine American Boards of Psychiatry and Neurology


“I would strongly recommend [this book] to any physician who has been named in a medical malpractice case – and to anyone who has yet to be sued. The authors provide a wealth of practical advice that will enable physicians to negotiate the legal system successfully.” - DOUGLAS W. LUNDY, M.D. Review in AAOS NOW Newsletter (March 2008) American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons


“[This book] will open a whole new window of understanding for medical, legal, and insurance professionals engaged in the business of medical malpractice.” - PATRICIA C. BERGER Consultant and Former VP of Litigation Management Physicians Insurance


“Fast-paced reading that covers the basics in an easy-to-understand manner. The legal process is complex enough; Dodge and Fitzer have found a way to make the system comprehensible with pointed suggestions for success.” - PAUL M. LISNEK, J.D., Ph.D.
Trial Attorney and Jury Consultant

When Good Doctors Get Sued

SKU: 978-0977751112

Angela M. Dodge, Ph.D.

Angela Dodge Ph.D. is the Founding Partner at Dodge Consulting & Publications LLP, a litigation consulting firm in the Seattle-Tacoma area of Washington State. An experienced trial consultant and social psychologist, she has helped hundreds of attorneys across the country with witness preparation, juror sensitive trial strategy, jury selection, and pre-trial research (focus groups and mock trials). Her expertise in the areas of courtroom communications and jury persuasion has helped attorneys formulate winning trial strategies and effective jury de-selection techniques throughout the country and particularly in the Pacific Northwest.

Angela has special expertise in working on medical/dental malpractice defense cases, and has prepared several thousand doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to give more effective and compelling testimony. She has conducted hundreds of pre-trial focus groups to assess case strengths and weaknesses, and many post-verdict interviews to determine how and why juries arrive at their verdicts. Although she is particularly experienced in de-selecting high risk jurors in medical malpractice trials, she has also consulted on a wide range of civil lawsuits, including personal injury, wrongful death, child/sex abuse, insurance coverage, employment issues, product liability, civil rights, and business fraud.

Incorporating her knowledge and experience gained through 25 years of working on several thousand legal cases, Dr. Dodge has authored and/or co-authored a number of guidebooks for attorneys, law professors, law students, healthcare professionals, and other trial advocates. She has a solid reputation as a consultant and seminar speaker, and she has addressed such groups as the Ninth Circuit Chief District Judges, Washington State Bar, Montana Defense Trial Lawyers, Oregon Law Institute, Defense Research Institute, Birth Injury & The Law Annual Conference, Washington Defense Trial Lawyers, Physician Insurers Association of America, and numerous other county and local organizations. Her current focus is on the marketing and distribution of the firm’s publications.

Angela earned her undergraduate degree summa cum laude at the University of North Dakota (1972) and her doctorate at the University of South Carolina (1976). Prior to her career as a litigation psychologist, Dr. Dodge worked in the areas of education research, manpower development, and organization development consulting.


Steven Fitzer, J.D.

Collaborator Steven Fitzer, J.D. is a respected trial attorney and senior shareholder of the law firm of Fitzer, Leighton & Fitzer, P.S. in Tacoma, Washington. In practice since 1976, his specialty is medical and legal professional liability defense. He has successfully defended hundreds of cases and worked with thousands of witnesses in his active practice, including doctors, nurses, physician assistants, and other healthcare professionals. Mr. Fitzer also serves as a pro tem judge.