Members of the medical profession are always working under the cloud of having a malpractice claim made against them. Apart from the fact that they take caring for their patients very seriously, they also have to try to avoid this happening as well. According to a HealthAffairs study, medical malpractice-related costs reach more than $55 billion every year in the US, and this does not include some of the extra test and treatments that are used to try and void these lawsuits. If you run a healthcare business, what can you do to try and prevent it happening to you?
Communication Is Crucial
The biggest single cause of malpractice claims against healthcare companies is a lack of communication. Regardless of how talented or experienced, you are in your chosen area of medicine, if your bedside manner is not good and how you speak to your patients is not clear and concise, you could be one of the physicians facing this problem.
Always ask your patients questions and listen carefully to their answers. Good communication between you will not only make it easier for you to form a diagnosis and treatment plan, but the patient will also feel that they really matter to you. Patients who feel they have a good relationship with their doctor are far less likely to file a malpractice claim against them.
Write It Down Clearly
Recording what has been said and decided on can be vitally important if a malpractice claim should be filed against you. All doctors realize the importance of notes, not just so that if you hire a lawyer, like nurse attorney, David Aden, he will have the full picture and lots of evidence to help you, but also because they form part of the health records of the patient. The more written records you have, the better.
You should date, time and sign every record you make and make sure it is written clearly enough for others to read. Specify who was at the consultation and what each person contributed to the discussion. Record all the finding, advice given and decisions made.
In fact, if you are not certain if you should include something it is always best to err on the side of caution and include it. Some doctors employ a scribe to do this side of the work for them. This means they can see more patients, as they do not have to stop between each one to write everything down.
Keep Up To Date With The Regulations In Your State
Medical malpractice laws differ from state to state and can even vary in different hospitals, which is why you need to ensure that your business is always up to date with any changes within the state you are working in, so that you can be certain you are working within the standards they have set.
Always Obtain Informed Consent
Before any surgery is performed you must have the consent of the patient or their guardian. Going back to communication and writing skills, it is vital that you explain clearly the procedure that is to be carried out, any risks involved and what the costs will be. Having a written record of this information and a signed consent form are crucial but still getting this wrong is the cause of many of the malpractice claims in the US.
Follow Up On Your Patients
Always follow up on any patients you have treated and listen to their feedback on how they are doing. If you have had to refer them to specialists, follow up with them to so that you are always aware of the current situation. It is best to have a system in place that ensures the follow up actually happen.
You could even have a member of your staff prepare the follow up for you so that all you have to do is make the call.
Look At It From A Patients Point Of View
Always look at any situation from the patient’s point of view, and if there is something that would upset you there is the likelihood it will upset them. Always return their calls or answer their emails and never refuse to answer any questions they ask.
Ask For Help
You have trained long and hard to be a health professional, and if any of this is too hard for you to deal with then ask for help. No one can expect to know every single illness or every medicine that is available. You should not let pride be an issue if you have a problem. Seek help from another doctor or a specialist in the area you are concerned about. It is far better for the patient that you do this, and far better for you than facing a medical malpractice claim because you got it wrong.