CARE’s mission is to offer affordable medical malpractice liability insurance to its member physicians and an aggressive defense when a claim is made. Our sincere hope is that none of our insureds are ever named as a defendant.
While medical errors and mistakes of any kind can and may occur, many of the claims and lawsuits we see here at CARE can be traced to poor risk management and inattention to detail.
Over time, we have found three areas of risk management that are often involved
When a patient retains an attorney to explore a possible malpractice claim, the very first thing a plaintiff attorney generally requests are the patient’s records. Those records are then examined relentlessly for errors, inconsistencies or alterations that would help make for a stronger case. Records must be legible, orderly, complete and convey precise observations, opinions and instructions.
Poor follow-up on referrals for treatment or testing
Time and again, we confront the situation where a doctor refers a patient to a specialist or to an outside facility for tests only to find out later that the patient failed to keep the appointment. Similarly, we see many instances where the patient is asked to follow-up with a return appointment that is not kept. It is very important that tracking mechanisms are in place to make sure that orders are followed, that treatment or tests are completed and findings are returned. If an adverse outcome occurs because a test or treatment was ordered but did not occur, one can be held responsible.
Ineffective communication with patients
Make sure your patients understand your diagnosis and treatment plan. Makes sure your staff treats each patient with respect and courtesy. Communicate clearly. Give the patient time to ask questions. When patients are treated well and they come away from a healthcare encounter with a positive experience, the less likely they will someday bring a formal complaint.
We encourage you to take the time to read, “Medical Malpractice Booklet,” a short guide to what happens when a medical malpractice allegation is made and some things you can do to reduce your chances of being named in a complaint.
As always, if there is anything we can do to assist our members in decreasing their vulnerability to claims and lawsuits, please do not hesitate to contact CARE.