Perhaps more than any other professionals, those working in the healthcare sector are most vulnerable to malpractice claims. Like the rest of us, healthcare professionals make mistakes. Unfortunately, the cost of a mistake in this field can have severe, if not fatal consequences for their patients leaving them exposed to a malpractice lawsuit.
According to a study by John Hopkins University, medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. accounting for more than 250,000 deaths each year. If you are a healthcare practitioner defending yourself against a claim these professional discipline lawyers may be able to help. This article has outlined the following tips to help you avoid a malpractice claim.
Foster a strong relationship with your patients by addressing their questions and concerns and avoid misunderstandings through clear communication. Make sure your patients understand their diagnosis and their options for treatment, explaining the possible risks or benefits and the likelihood of success.
Make the patient aware of any experimental treatment they may be given and make the effort to ensure they understand the implications of this if they are unclear. It is also important to have good communication with any other teams or secondary care providers that are treating the patient to gain a full understanding and consistency between treatments.
Inadequate or insufficient documentation can make it difficult to recount a situation or decision that was made, leaving a healthcare practitioner more susceptible to a claim against them. Proper documentation not only ensures all pertinent information is recorded, but also helps another practitioner more easily assume care for a patient, further reducing the risk of an error. Documenting the following information can establish good practice:
- Patient History – Record any matters relevant to the patient’s treatment or condition and any answers to questions asked.
- Patient Examination – Report any findings from examining the patient and any further investigations recommended.
- Diagnosis – Document the reasons for your diagnosis and record any lab results that influenced your decision. Also document any uncertainties or other possibilities regarding your diagnosis and your reasons for ruling these out.
- Treatment—Document the course of treatment you recommend and any medication given, including dosages.
- Patient Information – Record details of information given to the patient regarding their diagnosis, treatment, side effects and any questions or concerns addressed.
- Progress – Record the patient’s response to any treatment and any follow-up treatment.
Stay up-to-date on your patients’ progress. Follow up with them to receive direct feedback on their treatment and progress and also consult with other professionals involved in their treatment. Having the latest information on a patient is the best line of defense in responding to any concerns or catching any problems early, safeguarding yourself from the risk of a malpractice claim.
The medical world is an area that is constantly evolving. It is important to stay up to date with the latest techniques and treatments to provide adequate care to your patients. Make sure to actively pursue training and education to stay current on the latest news, regulations and innovations within your field of expertise.
By practicing the guidance in this article you can better serve your patients while minimizing your chances of being on the other end of a malpractice lawsuit.