5 Steps For Avoiding Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Malpractice lawsuits cause huge losses for physicians every year. These cases can result from
even the smallest errors, including a lack of accurate record-keeping, failure to use a consistent
routine during patient checkups, or even misinterpreting abbreviations for terms and LASA

In a study conducted by the RAND Corporation, it was found that physicians will spend over 10
percent of their 40-year careers resolving medical malpractice cases. This could equate to a
cumulative 50.7 months of a practitioner’s life, according to data collected from The Doctors
Company. Richard E. Anderson, MD, FACP, Chairman and CEO of the Doctors Company
describes this data in detail through this video.

What’s more, it is common to find that resolving a case often does not lead to an indemnity
payment. Even with malpractice insurance, the time spent dealing with litigation could be better
used towards learning how to avoid it in the first place.

Malpractice occurs when a physician negligently causes harm to a patient. Sometimes,
malpractice claims can be entirely out of the practitioner’s control. However, there are
measurable steps that can be taken to help prevent the charge of a lawsuit.

  1. Communication
    1. Verify each patient’s health literacy
    2. Have a big picture understanding of what their vital signs are saying
    3. Record patient understanding of instruction for moving forward
  2. Documentation
    1. Take personal responsibility for keeping accurate records
    2. Never alter the medical record
    3. Only use appropriate abbreviations when necessary
    4. Review information populated into the EMR
    5. Use consistent formatting
    6. Be mindful of medication terminology (clarify LASA – look-alike/sound-alike –
      when applicable)
  3. Accurate Prescription Practice
    1. Ensure security of prescription pads
    2. Document all samples
    3. Routinely check allergies
    4. Review medications at each visit
  4. Handoffs and Follow-Ups
    1. Implement a procedure for appointment tracking
    2. Always reschedule missed and canceled appointments
    3. Communicate with patients who have trouble keeping appointments
    4. Highlight the necessity for follow up care
    5. Recommend a new practitioner when necessary
  5. Abide by HIPAA Regulations
    1. Do not allow the unauthorized releases of protected health information (PHI)
    2. Use recommended technology for securing PHI
    3. Be diligent in office practices to preserve PHI, including online communication
    4. Have a comprehensive knowledge of state and federal requirements

Medical malpractice causes expensive lawsuits and can cost physicians years of their lives.
With insurance, it is possible to mitigate financial losses. However, by implementing consistent
procedures and maintaining daily diligence, physicians can reduce the chances of costly
malpractice cases and spend more time providing patients with excellent medical care.

Credit: Thedoctors.com

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