Looking to stop a malpractice suit in its tracks? Start with the following:
• A sympathetic — or, when appropriate, apologetic — gesture to a patient and his family following a bad outcome will most likely help rather than hurt.
• Patients and their families are often looking for answers — especially from you; take the time to talk with them despite busy schedules or discomfort about an outcome.
• Document fully today because if a lawsuit comes somewhere down the line, you may not remember the treatment or even that patient.
• EHRs are great, but don't just copy and paste from patient to patient; unique notes are good lawsuit eliminators.
• Don't alter your chart; it is the record of what happened at that moment. If you have a thought after the fact, use a dated addendum.
• Don't blame colleagues, insurance companies, or the patient. This will look bad to a jury.
Keith L. Martin is associate editor at Physicians Practice. He can be reached at [email protected].
This article originally appeared in the March 2011 issue of Physicians Practice.