No one goes into a medical profession in order to cause harm. You do what you do so that you can help people. Unfortunately, medical practitioners are human, and as with any job, mistakes can occur.
But unlike most other jobs, mistakes made by healthcare practitioners such as doctors, nurses and hospitals can lead to severe and potentially life threatening consequences. Additionally, we live in an extremely litigious society with a high potential for frivolous lawsuits to occur in just about any industry. Even the best medical practitioners face some degree of risk for a malpractice lawsuit, but there are steps you can take to help mitigate those risks and put yourself in the best position to win any lawsuit that is brought against you.
Below we have detailed seven tips to help you minimize your risk of getting sued for medical malpractice. Please keep in mind that this blog is not intended as legal advice for your unique circumstances. If you need legal guidance specific to your situation, please contact the Law Offices of Phil Griffis today.
1) Build positive relationships with patients
The fact is, a patient who likes you is far less likely to sue you if you do make a mistake. Make an effort to be courteous with your patient. If possible, take the time to get to know them a little better and allow them to get to know you a little better.
2) Conduct follow-ups
Persistently following up with you patients will help you to remain apprised of your patient’s condition and mindset. If they miss an appointment, check in to see why. If you get test results back, follow up with them and make sure they understand the implications. By doing so you will have a better chance of catching a potential problem with a patient that could lead to a lawsuit, and then be able to take steps to resolve the issue before it snowballs.
3) Take time to ensure your patient understands
Most of your patients will not have a medical background. It is absolutely essential that you take pains to ensure your patient completely understands everything you tell them. A simple misunderstanding could quickly turn into something much more serious. Additionally, it could lead to you taking action or performing a procedure without the patient’s informed consent, which is a surefire way to get sued for medical malpractice.
4) Document everything
We understand how busy you are. We understand how tedious paperwork is. It doesn’t matter. There is no excuse not to extensively document all of your patient interactions. Having a thorough record of your conversations, including dates, times, and what was said, is vital if you want to effectively protect yourself from legal action. Write everything down as soon as possible following your interaction with the patient so that you don’t forget details. Your reports should be as unambiguous as possible. And definitely stay away from cutting and pasting information from a prior visit into a current visit note.
5) Educate yourself
Standards of care are constantly changing. If at all possible, go beyond the base requirements when it comes to educating yourself on current best practices.
6) Manage expectations
No one enjoys giving patients bad news. Medical practitioners oftentimes want to look on the bright side and be as positive as possible about their patients’ prognoses. However, in order to protect yourself from a malpractice lawsuit, you need to manage the expectations of your patients. Do not promise things you can’t deliver. Be realistic and honest with them at all times.
7) Ask for help
Do not allow your pride to get in the way of providing your patient with the best possible care. If you are unsure about something, ask someone who is sure. If you are uncomfortable performing a procedure, ask for assistance from someone with more experience.
If you are facing accusations of negligence in a Texas medical setting, please do not hesitate to contact The Law Offices of Phil Griffis today and let us fight to defend you from the threat of a career-damaging medical malpractice lawsuit.