Medical malpractice is an unfortunate reality of practicing medicine in the current health-care environment, and we all want to reduce any acts of true malpractice. Here are a few ways you can reduce your overall risk of being caught in a malpractice suit:
- Listen to your gut: Ever get a lab or pathology report that didn’t meet your original suspicion? Ever feel worried or uncomfortable after seeing a patient? Trust your gut! If something feels “wrong,” chances are there may actually be something wrong.
- Proper documentation: As any attorney will tell you, a medical record is your best friend in a malpractice case – that is as long your records are clear and have proper documentation. This means having a clear account of a patient’s physical and medical history, including what each provider was responsible for. The ultimate responsibility (i.e., who will be held liable) sits squarely on the shoulders of the heath care provider. The nurses, medical assistants, and other ancillary personnel on your staff need to sign any aspect of a patient’s medical chart or record. Along these lines, make it a point (or bring in an outside lecturer) at least once to explain to your staff the malpractice burgeons you accept for even their work.
- Patient likeability: Studies have shown that patients who like their health care provider are less likely to sue them even if there’s a true act of malpractice. This speaks directly to your bedside manner and connection with each patient and their family.
- Know your stuff: Every one of us went into health care to help people. Which means the most important part of not being a part of a malpractice claim is to be a good clinician. Being a NP, PA, or physician means a commitment to lifelong learning.