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Stemming Medical Malpractice Suits

Depending on the specialty, anywhere from 75 percent to 99 percent of practicing doctors will over the course of a lifetime be threatened with a lawsuit. In fact, medical health providers in the U.S. are estimated to pay as much $7 billion this year for malpractice liability.

Most medical malpractice claims are based on medical errors that have resulted in patient injury or death. They may involve:

  • Allegations that the medical professional offered a standard of care lower than the patient could reasonably expect to find elsewhere
  • A physician prescribing a medication or medical device without fully reading the instructions or prescribing the wrong amount which results in injury
  • A situation where a medical professional fails to obtain a patients “informed consent” in relation to a procedure or treatment, which can be construed as a form of negligence

Obviously, reducing medical errors will lessen the risk of medical malpractice litigation. What can you do to help stem the threat of a lawsuit?

  • Most importantly, have open and honest communication with your patients. This lets them know how you will provide care for them and facilitates patients by providing needed information regarding their health conditions.
  • Be sure you have written documentation of your involvement and thought process regarding the patient’s care. Written documentation also supports your findings, recommendations, orders, and plans concerning patient care.
  • Assure that your written documentation is legible so that all members of the health care team can read it. According to a recent survey, the incidence of legible handwriting by physicians in patient’s charts varies from as low as 13% to as high as 80%. Illegible orders are routinely noted to be a source of medication errors. Improving legibility of orders and other medical documentation can reduce medication errors and medical errors, which reduces the risk of being sued.
  • Don’t limit your written documentation to time spent with a patient during examinations. When a patient calls in with a concern or question, be sure you document it in the patient’s chart. Provide dates and times for all written medical documentation.

Axis Insurance Services, LLC works with physicians and surgeons all over the Northeast, helping them protect themselves and their practice against risk. We are thoroughly experienced in finding protection plans that fit your individual practice. Give us a call at (877) 787-5258.

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Blogged on: April 10, 2012 by Mike Smith
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