A medical malpractice lawsuit isn’t just potentially costly — it can also damage your reputation and credibility as a physician. A lawsuit is also tremendously time-consuming, taking you away from both your patients and your growing practice.
Frankly, no physician wants to be involved in a malpractice suit. That means that it’s only smart to do what you can to reduce the possibility that one will happen. Here are some practical tips that may make the difference:
- Work on your bedside manner. Even if you only see patients in your office (and not in a hospital room), “bedside manner” is important. A good relationship between patient and physician usually facilitates communication and fosters a sense of mutual respect and trust.
- Communicate clearly. Remember: Patients are not doctors. Don’t talk to them as if they were familiar with medical jargon (unless they are). Make use of handouts regarding common conditions and instruction sheets so that patients have written records that can help them remember important information and instructions.
- Always get informed consent. It isn’t enough to get your patient’s permission to move ahead with treatment: Make sure they understand their risks at all times. Remember, the patient’s health and well-being are at stake, so give them all the information they need to make good decisions.
- Document everything. No matter, you can’t afford to be lax about your documentation procedures. Charts, records, copies of medication instructions, testing requests and more need to be kept complete at all times.
When in doubt, err on the side of caution. Even if you’re 99% convinced that you know what’s causing a patient’s problems, follow the established diagnostic protocols without skipping any steps.
If you are facing a medical malpractice suit, help is available.