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Agents: Educate Both Yourself and Your Clients

Brokers and agents act as the liaison between medical malpractice insurance carriers and healthcare providers (including doctors, ARNPs, surgeons, dentists, behavioral health professionals, etc.). As a liaison, it’s important that you understand the complexities of this type of liability insurance. Some of your clients might be just out of medical school, or working as a subcontractor, or are going into business for themselves and no longer under the umbrella of a hospital policy. No matter their situation, your main goal is to educate your clients.

How can you help them decide which policy is best for them? Some key elements to discuss with them include:

  • Point out whether a policy covers bodily injury, property damage, and/or liability for personal injuries. And if so, what are the coverage limits? Be sure to note that per-occurrence and per-policy limits are two separate dollar amounts. Outline any conditions and exclusions so there are no surprises should your client be sued.
  • Know your state’s minimum requirements for insuring specific types of practices. Surgeons and OB practices have more risk potential, and therefore, need stronger risk buffers.
  • In addition to state minimums mentioned above, ask your clients how risk-averse they tend to be. How comfortable are they with lower policy caps? You don’t want them losing sleep at night (and calling you!) when they could simply make some policy adjustments to match their comfort level.
  • Discuss potential litigation costs, and specifically which legal expenses are covered by the policy.
  • Outline differences in reporting periods. Basically, they have two options: claims-made policies or per-occurrence policies.

Considering that a majority of healthcare professionals will face at least one medical malpractice lawsuit in the course of their career, their liability coverage is an important part of their success. Aligning your clients with proper coverage ensures success for both you and them.

Contact us today if you’d like to learn more about becoming an agent for CARE. We place a strong focus on serving the needs of our agent/broker network and would love to discuss partnering with you.

Adverse Anesthesia Events: Are They Inevitable?

Statistically speaking, anesthesia-related deaths are very rare: only one death is reported per every 200,000 – 300,000 events. But as with any medical procedure, there is room for improvement, including more stringent monitoring techniques and widespread adoption of best practices. Both of these suggestions can pave the way for standardized procedures to make that statistic even smaller.

The leading causes of anesthesia-related issues include:

While not all adverse events result in death, serious issues can arise, such as brain injury, brain death, increased cardiac and respiratory complications, prolonged hospital stays, and necessary mechanical ventilator support.

Patient knowledge, consent, and comfort are important factors in anesthesia care. Thoroughly discussing techniques, risks, and outcomes with patients encourages candid dialogue about patient history, current physical constraints, or even mental illness that may affect certain modes of anesthesia. Setting the proper expectations for patients creates an environment of trust and confidence in their providers.

In the unlikely event that issues arise, immediately document every aspect of the incident. While this includes a thorough description of technical events, don’t overlook the importance of engaging relevant consultants, such as neurologists and radiologists. Professionals from other disciplines can provide valuable third-party insight in determining cause and effect.

CARE members also have valuable resources at their disposal, such as the RiskFit helpline (available compliments of CARE’s partnership with OmniSure). This helpline can answer questions and provide guidance on how to best mitigate the risk arising from adverse events. The RiskFit helpline garners best practices from the volume of information it collects on similar events. Coupled with the experience level of the associates that provide consultations, this information helps members decide on the best course of action specific to their situation.

Contact us today if you would like more information about the benefits of joining CARE, or would like to see how the CARE/OmniSure partnership can benefit you too.

The Benefits of a Solid Risk Management Plan

It’s imperative to be proactive in healthcare. Not only in caring for your patients and staff, but also to stay ahead of any inherent risks to your business. A solid risk management plan reduces your liability in the first place, and acts to minimize litigation (should it happen). This protects not only your financial standing and assets, but also your firm’s market share, accreditation, reimbursement levels, brand value, and community standing.

One major benefit of instituting a risk management plan is that it improves patient outcomes too. A heightened awareness of processes, especially documentation, instills a sense of professionalism across your entire team, including both healthcare workers and office staff. This in turn reduces errors, which improves patient satisfaction and strengthens your reputation in the community. It also increases your bottom line by reducing expenses.

Risk management, at a basic level, is the responsibility of everyone employed at your business. But since everyone already has a full plate of responsibilities, their role is usually more reactive (to specific events) than proactive (looking at the big picture). You also need an expert on your team. Depending on the size of your practice, it might make sense to hire a risk manager. However, more often than not, your budget simply doesn’t have the room to take on a full-time salaried position. Partnering with a third-party risk management firm might be the perfect compromise.

Speaking of third parties, a level of risk is both assumed and mitigated whenever you contract with third parties. Not just for malpractice management, but for any services. Consider basics, such as records management and document shredding services. These may seem like simple tasks, but everything related to healthcare records needs to be considered under the watchful umbrella of compliance. Data sharing, storage, and destruction all fall under that umbrella.

Contact us today if you have questions about risk management and outsourcing those types of responsibilities. We would love to put our collective experience to work for you.

CARE and OmniSure: A Solid Partnership

CARE Professional Liability Association has partnered with OmniSure Consulting Group, a risk management and loss-control firm, to provide you with complimentary access to Risk Fitness®, which is an online tool that helps reduce your professional risk. This includes the RiskFit® library, email tips, and the RiskFit® helpline.

As the program name implies, it’s designed to ensure your firm’s well-being. The experts that manage the helpline could be considered your trainers. The health of your risk management plan is dependent on more than a single site visit for a cursory assessment. It is not a static event. A healthy risk management plan requires curating over time, introducing best practices as they are learned and new policies as they are developed.

The RiskFit helpline can help you with questions about your professional practice, risk mitigation, and regulatory-related issues. In addition to calling, you can also send an email to helpline@omnisure.com. You might know your business best and have great relationships with your patients, but you shouldn’t be expected to know every nuance of every change in laws and regulations. You need a resource you can depend on. That’s what the RiskFit helpline is to you … a lifeline.

Every company has its own risk management challenges. It’s important to partner with an organization that can provide insight about gaps, concerns, and challenges from an outside party’s perspective. Many claims and lawsuits can be traced to poor risk management and inattention to detail. In the daily barrage of work, these elements are easy to overlook. Some areas that usually end up lacking are documentation, follow up, and patient communication. It’s easy to become complacent.  

Contact us today. We can help you maximize your RiskFitness tools through our partnership with OmniSure. The collective knowledge and experience we all bring to the proverbial table makes us better-informed resources for each other.  

Medical Malpractice Concerns: Mitigating Your Risk

Can physicians and providers take steps to mitigate their malpractice lawsuit risk? While it may seem an inevitability, there are measures you can take to protect yourself and your practice.

The first step involves patient relations. Having a solid rapport with patients before any issues arise is the best way to instill confidence and trust. It is important to communicate to patients whenever a problem occurs. And if that issue includes a physician error, an apology is a necessary component of malpractice mitigation. An honest conversation about what went wrong builds faith in the patient/provider relationship. No one wants to do business with someone that they feel is untrustworthy. Not a mechanic, and certainly not a medical provider. The transparency of communicating the issue is paramount to patient relations, but the solution is also important. Resolve the issue and it strengthens your reputation as a problem solver.

Documentation is an important part of any malpractice avoidance strategy. Documentation is not only about maintaining detailed official patient records about diagnoses and procedures, but also includes proof of all conversations involving consent, care, complications, options, and expectations of both the provider and the patient. An often-overlooked piece of documentation is when a patient is referred to another provider. If their condition is serious, ensure that they understand the urgency in which they need treatment and follow up.

Another element largely at play is simple geography. Educate yourself on your state’s specific malpractice laws. Variations and factors include:

  • Each state’s tort reform laws differ, some require a certificate of merit before a case can proceed through the court system
  • Some states enlist the professional opinion of medical review panels, which are comprised of medical and legal professionals
  • Statutes of limitation also differ between states
  • Damage caps vary, and play a large part in whether attorneys are willing to proceed with malpractice suits

In general, it’s important to have a concrete system of checks and balances in place (this protects both providers and patients). It encourages professionalism at all points of contact and eliminates doubt that any patient is likely to have when undergoing serious/complicated medical treatment. Being deemed reliable is a great way to mitigate your malpractice suit likelihood.

Contact us today. We can analyze your firm’s liability potential and provide you with solutions to lessen your malpractice concerns.