While most medical practitioners entered their profession to help people get well, they risk getting sued by their patients and their families. When physicians make a mistake, they risk subjecting themselves and their practice to lawsuits. Lawsuits can cause great emotional and financial distress for the doctor, as well as undermine confidence and trust in the doctor and his/her practice.
Even the most reputable and experienced doctors are surrounded by risks, such as insufficient follow-up, inadequate pursuits of a patient’s medical history, and suspected diagnostic inaccuracies. Despite the many risks, doctors can protect themselves and their practices by acknowledging what poses the highest risk and implementing formal policies and procedures. With risk management, practices can reduce the likelihood of patient injuries, as well as reduce the likelihood that a suit would transpire when an injury does occur.
Follow these tips from Dr. Ella Faktorovich for protecting your medical practice from lawsuits:
- Stay Informed – Keep your practice informed on all the latest developments in your specialties and areas of practice. Stay up-to-date on every treatment and procedure your office provides, so you can provide the most effective treatments to your patients. It’s important that you know the latest information, even for the simplest procedures, to protect your office from problematic incidents.
- Document Everything – While you can’t document an encounter in its entirety, avoid skipping out on the details. Though they may seem minor at the time, these details could save you down the road should a negative incident occur. You can refer to your patient records to explain why you made a certain decision or chose one treatment over another.
- Communicate Effectively – It is best that your practice encourages honest and open communication. Patients who genuinely believe their healthcare provider cares about them and has their best interest in mind are less likely to sue when errors do occur. Poor communication and bad outcomes are often the reason behind litigations. Therefore, one of the best ways to mitigate your risk is to communicate effectively with patients and their families. Listen intently to your patients concerns and offer clear answers and instructions, while documenting them meticulously. In the event of an error, express your apology and empathy to the patient and his/her family and explain that a similar error will not occur again.
What steps are you taking to protect your medical practice?