Healthcare professionals are human. They make mistakes just like the rest of us. Unfortunately, mistakes in healthcare can have severe consequences for other people, which is why those who work in this industry are especially susceptible to malpractice lawsuits.
In dictionary terms, malpractice is “improper, illegal, or negligent professional activity or treatment.” Sometimes malpractice claims arise due to actual error or negligence, while other times these lawsuits are a result of misunderstandings or purposeful maliciousness.
Healthcare professionals need to actively work to avoid such issues, since a malpractice lawsuit could cause serious ruin both professionally and financially. Below we’ve detailed nine tips to help you avoid malpractice claims.
1) Document EVERYTHING
Your first line of defense against malpractice is proper documentation. Always document dates, times, events, and be extremely specific. We know you are busy, but you cannot afford to neglect documenting all your patient interactions and any actions you’ve personally taken.
Clear communication with your patients is key to avoiding misunderstandings. Make sure your patients feel comfortable communicating their thoughts, questions, and concerns to you, and make sure you give them consistent updates and attention. As with your documentation, always be as clear and specific as possible, and if you think your patient doesn’t understand something, take pains to make sure they do.
3) Know policies and standards of care
Make sure you learn the policies and regulations of the facility in which you are working, and take the time to consistently update your knowledge of oft changing professional standards of care for your area of medicine.
4) Don’t get lazy
We know how busy you are. We understand how overwhelming everything can get. You still cannot let any of your duties or responsibilities lapse. This includes tedious, administrative duties and other time-consuming necessities like documenting patient interactions.
5) Ask for help
Don’t try to be a hero or be too proud to ask for help. Know your limits and do not try to do something you don’t feel comfortable doing. Your pride could cause you to make a serious mistake that could literally ruin your career.
6) ALWAYS get informed consent
You know what they say about assuming… Make sure the patient understands and consents to the actions you plan to take every single time.
7) Strive to build strong relationships with patients
A good bedside manner and going the extra mile to make a patient comfortable can go a long way towards protecting you from potential malpractice claims. Happy patients rarely seek to sue their doctors or nurses.
8) Follow up
Follow up with your patients and follow up with other specialists or professionals involved in a patient’s treatment. Have a set schedule and protocol in place for following up that you will stick to with every patient.
9) Temper expectations and don’t promise what you can’t deliver
Always be realistic with your patients and temper their expectations of what your treatment will be able to achieve for them. Making promises that you know you can’t deliver on will not be worth briefly making the patient feel better when you are facing a serious malpractice suit later.
If you are facing a malpractice claim, please contact the Trembly Law Firm. We are passionate about defending the rights of healthcare professionals and other professionals to help them avoid wrongful, costly lawsuits.