About Us

Sara C. Charles

Sara C. Charles, MD, is a psychiatrist and professor emerita at the UIC medical school in Chicago. In 1976, Dr. Charles endured a six week trial for medical malpractice in federal court which resulted in a defense verdict. The experience of the trial so profoundly affected her that she began to study the mental, emotional and physical effects of malpractice litigation on physician defendants. The research she published into the 1980s and 90s is still relied on today by experts in physician wellness. Dr. Charles also co-authored two books: Defendant, A Psychiatrist on Trial for Medical Malpractice (written with her husband, Dr. Eugene Kennedy), and Adverse Events, Stress and Litigation (written with her dear friend, attorney Paul Frisch).

Dr. Charles is now retired from active practice but remains engaged in promoting the wellness of all healthcare professionals who become involved in malpractice litigation, including being the principal founding member of this website.

About Physician Litigation Stress

In the interest of full disclosure, we offer the following information:

History: An Advisory Group of five volunteers (two physicians, two lawyers, and a nurse insurance company risk manager) established the website in March 2005.

Philosophy: Stress is a normal response to involvement in an adverse event and the litigation that may follow. The website is intended to provide emotional and educational support during this period of exceptional stress. This support is designed to help physicians help themselves and mitigate the impact of stress so as to become better defendants and safer clinicians.

Goal: In most areas of the country, there are surprisingly few, if any, resources available to assist the newly sued physician. This website is designed to be a single point of contact where the physician can anonymously access authoritative, unbiased information regarding both the medical malpractice lawsuit process and the mental and emotional dynamics that often accompany entry into this process. As such, this website is unique. While the site offers general information regarding how and from whom to seek professional assistance when needed, it offers no specific legal or psychological advice, as this is the role and responsibility of the physician’s personal attorney, physician, and/or mental health professional.

Because the Advisory Group is keenly aware of the sensitive and personal nature of physicians’ reactions to the negative events that occur in practice, the Group has striven to maintain neutrality and has no conflicts of interest to report. We want you to know that the Advisory Group gives the highest importance to maintaining your confidentiality. While we monitor the number of visits to this site and its individual pages for statistical purposes, we assure you that individual visitors are not monitored or identified in any way. No one will send you any reply, add you to any mailing list, or contact you in any other way unless you request a response from one of our Advisory Board members. Please review our privacy policy for further information.

Advisory Group

Theodore Passineau, JD, HRM, RPLU, CPHRM, FASHRM

is a Senior Patient Safety and Risk Management Consultant for the MedPro Group, a large, international insurer of healthcare professional liability. He has been involved in healthcare risk management since 1987, and lectures and writes extensively on a variety of risk management topics. Ted is the author of original research indicating that involvement in malpractice litigation may place the healthcare professional at increased risk of involvement in subsequent malpractice litigation. Ted can be reached at theodore.passineau@medpro.com.

Gerri Donohue, MS, RN, ARM, CPHRM, FASHRM

is the Vice President of Education for EmPRO Insurance in New York. Gerri developed the Physician Peer Support Program under the tutelage of Jo Shapiro, MD. EmPRO offers physician peer support individually, by phone, and offers a variety of Group Peer Support programs virtually using the zoom platform.

Jo Shapiro, MD, FACS

is the director of the Center for Professionalism and Peer Support (CPPS) and an otolaryngologist in the Department of Surgery at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. She is an Associate Professor of Otolaryngology at Harvard Medical School. The CPPS programs are designed to increase clinician wellbeing. The Center’s peer support program has trained frontline clinicians to reach out to physicians and other healthcare team members after emotionally stressful events such as medical error, being named in a lawsuit, or being reported to the Board of Registration in Medicine. Dr. Shapiro serves on the Ethics and Professionalism Committee of the American Board of Medical Specialties, and recently concluded her term as that committee’s chairperson.


practiced obstetrics and gynecology in Portland, Oregon. He was the Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center. He chaired the Professional Liability Committee and served on the Committee on Patient Safety and Quality Improvement of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. He is currently a member of the Board of the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management (ASHRM) He has published articles and given presentations dealing with medical malpractice, improving communication for the perinatal team, system failures and adverse obstetrical outcomes, litigation stress, and disruptive behavior as a patient safety threat.

Gita Pensa, MD, FAAEM

is an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at the Warren Alpert School of Medicine of Brown University, and Associate Director of the Emergency Digital Health Innovation program. She speaks nationally on medical malpractice litigation and litigation stress, and counsels physicians who are involved in litigation or its aftermath. She serves as a Faculty Strategist for the Wellness Think Tank at ALiEM, and also mentors emergency medicine residents and fellows via the Council of Residency Directors on a national scale, educating them on issues surrounding litigation and burnout. She was named the National Faculty Mentor of the Year by the Emergency Medicine Residents' Association in 2018. You can hear the personal story of her journey through malpractice litigation in an interview here (Part 1 and Part 2). She is currently working on "Doctors in Litigation: The L Word," a podcast series highlighting the stories of physicians involved in medical malpractice litigation.

Advisory Group Members (Emeriti)

Dawer Azizi, MHA, RN, BSN
Vice President of Operations, Medical Interactive Community
Manager of RM & Patient Safety, LAMMICO

Maureen Mondor 
Former Risk Management Consultant

Paul Frisch, JD (deceased)

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