Despite the fact that most doctors and their staff use good judgement when it comes to patient care, there are thousands of medical malpractice lawsuits brought each year. Mistakes do occur but just not all medical malpractice cases are justified and not all plaintiff’s cases are successful. In order to win a lawsuit, the patient must prove their healthcare provider was negligent and their lack of skill or competence resulted in harm to the patient. Below we review the mistakes that can result in legal action.
Failing to Notify Your Liability Insurance Carrier
Medical malpractice insurance covers you if the services you provide cause patient injury or death. Sometimes healthcare providers are hesitant to contact their carrier when there is an allegation of malpractice. Get in touch as soon as you become aware of the possibility of a claim. This will benefit you
Electronic Health Records Mistakes
Copying and pasting information between electronic health records may save time but it can also lead to errors. Be especially careful with drop-down menus, because they make it easy to click the wrong choice. Mistakes also occur when a computer system is down, and prescriptions or other information recorded on paper are never entered.
Hanging On to Problem Patients
Patients who don’t pay, regularly schedule appointments and don’t show up, refuse necessary tests or are chronically dissatisfied are more likely to create legal problems. You can legally dismiss them if you take the right precautions.
Miscommunications Between Providers
If patients are seeing more than one physician, don’t assume everything necessary for their care has been entered in their EHR. Check with previous and current medical providers to make sure you know any concerns or potential treatment interactions.
Giving Patients Unrealistic Expectations
Patients want to believe their health issue will be quickly and easily resolved. The physician has a responsibility for communicating what they can reasonably expect. Use numbers and percentages where appropriate.
If you have a criticism about how another doctor, hospital or provider cared for your patient in the past, keep it to yourself. Allegations of improper care frequently result in legal action.
Leaving Documentation Off Charts
Physicians are required to keep an individual record for each patient with a problem list, medications, allergies, substance abuse history and other content. Events should be documented at each visit.
Not Dealing with Angry Patients
If a patient is dissatisfied, it could be a mistake to assume they’ll cool off when they’ve had some time. It’s always better to sit down with them right away to listen to their concerns.
Assuming Unhappy Patients Just Want Money
Sometimes patients aren’t looking for a refund or payout. They may be looking for alternative treatment options or simply want to be heard.
Not Expressing Sadness Over Bad Results
Doctors are afraid to say, “I’m sorry,” because they fear it implies they are to blame. It’s always appropriate to express sympathy, and many states, including Texas, have laws that prevent apologies from supporting a malpractice lawsuit.
If you’ve made one of these mistakes and are facing a lawsuit, you need legal representation. Contact a health law attorney who can help you decide how best to navigate the days ahead.