One of the most common fears all physicians face is a medical malpractice lawsuit. Malpractice, in the simplest terms, means negligence. A court can rule a physician negligent if they do not provide an appropriate standard of care to their patient.
Patients are much more likely to sue doctors when they believe their health could be at risk. For example, an internal medicine doctor who misdiagnoses a patient’s lymphoma has higher chances of being sued than the ear, nose, and throat doctor who does not diagnose pneumonia correctly.
There are countless ways to avoid malpractice claims. However, here are seven simple ways to reduce your risk of becoming involved in a malpractice suit:
1. Maintain Good Communication Skills
Since more than 70 percent of doctors’ lawsuits are related to communication failures, doctors must communicate with patients. This means that they must listen closely to the patient’s description of their problems and patiently answer all questions regarding their condition.
In addition, they should speak slowly and clearly, using layman terms during conversations with the patient.
2. Check Your EHR Frequently for Possible Errors
Once a doctor has made a diagnosis and prescribed medication, they may feel confident in their care for the patient. However, that does not mean that the work is done.
Doctors must check their electronic health records (EHR) to ensure they have not missed anything and guard against any potential errors. The EHR should be checked periodically throughout the day and night to maintain an extra level of vigilance when it comes to patient care.
3. Avoid Using Abbreviations When Speaking with Patients
Not only can abbreviations cause problems when communicating with other healthcare professionals, but they can also cause issues for patients. This scenario is especially true for patients trying to understand the doctor’s instructions.
Even though EHRs often use abbreviations, doctors should try their best not to use them when speaking with patients. This could lead to misunderstandings and incorrect treatment decisions, resulting in legal action against the doctor or hospital later on down the line.
4. Maintain Patient Confidentiality at All Times
Although many people think of medical records as public documents, this is not the case. A patient’s medical information should always be considered private and confidential.
Even though a patient might sign a release allowing their doctor to discuss their condition with other healthcare providers, this does not mean they waived their confidentiality clause. Healthcare professionals must keep their patients’ records confidential. If a doctor discloses accurate and personal information to someone unauthorized to receive it; then, they may find themselves in legal trouble due to breaking privacy laws.
5. Avoid Prescribing Medications That Might Conflict with Each Other
When more than one medication is prescribed to a patient, it becomes imperative for doctors to ensure no conflicting elements, such as interactions between certain drugs or side effects, in each prescription.
Since many medications can cause problems for patients, it is essential to discuss all drugs the patient might be taking with their healthcare provider. This ensures healthcare professionals avoid prescribing medication that can lead to health risks or even death.
6. Assist Your Patients with Identifying Fraud
Healthcare providers must educate their patients about fraud and abuse. By helping the patient identify scams, they will avoid these types of situations, which could lead them to financial ruin, especially if a lot of money was spent on items like medical equipment, which wouldn’t have been necessary.
For instance, if your patient’s brain is injured due to medical malpractice, then assist your patient with legal advice. Assisting them ensures that they are not taken advantage of by scammers. Also, ask them to hire a brain injury attorney to protect their rights. But make sure you also hire legal representation. That way, you can also protect your practice.
7. Exercise Caution When Prescribing Painkillers and Other Addictive Substances
Painkillers and other drugs are commonly abused and can lead to addiction, leading to legal trouble for both the doctor and the patient later on down the line.
Because of this, doctors should exercise extreme caution when prescribing these types of medications. They might end up facing malpractice lawsuits if they prescribe these drugs inappropriately. In some cases, medical professionals over prescribe patients who are not taking them as directed.
As you can see, following these tips can help doctors to avoid malpractice claims by avoiding practices that lead to medical negligence. The seven tips listed above are easy to follow and not very time-consuming; however, physicians should take them seriously since patient safety is important.
By taking these steps, doctors will reduce the chances of making a colossal mistake that could negatively affect their patients’ health and their careers.