The Uncertain Future—Small Steps to Avoid Malpractice Claims and Prevent Patient Dissatisfaction
In our struggling healthcare industry, both providers and patients face uncertain economic times. We anticipate big changes on the horizon, but we don’t yet know what they will be or how they will affect everyone.
Regardless, the team at Doyle Schafer McMahon, LLP knows that this environment of uncertainty puts healthcare providers at greater risk for malpractice claims as patients feel an overall sense of neglect and dismissiveness. Usually, these feelings stem not from a conscious effort to find causal connections, but rather a build-up in their subconscious from multiple sources. They can feel as though they are paying more for less care, and that in the rigmarole of the healthcare bureaucratic engine, they are forgotten. Over time, this can drastically alter their perceptions of the quality of care they receive, making them more susceptible to falsely perceive malpractice.
As part of our representation of doctors, we want to help our clients to avoid these risks and face any issues that may crop up with patient confidence. We believe that, with thoughtful and carefully prepared strategies, most of our clients can minimize malpractice claim risks from day one. Here are the basics to consider:
- Place upmost importance in written, well-documented policies and procedures for all aspects of your practice. Consider them the foundation upon which your practice will operate so that, for everything that happens, you can demonstrate the “whys” of your operations, as well as the fact that they were designed with adherence to all compliance measures.
- Likewise, train your staff to follow these guidelines and procedures strictly and without fail. You need to trust that your staff does not cut corners, show preference, or grow rusty in their familiarity of your expectations. Your frontline staff can either help bolster patient confidence or destroy it by its actions. Malpractice does not just include you; we will end up defending nurses and healthcare professionals that make up the business that carries your name as well.
- Drill the importance of HIPAA compliance into everyone from reception to the janitorial staff. As HIPAA lawyers, we know that this is one area where disgruntled patients gain the most traction when they enter into healthcare-based litigation.
- Help frame patient expectations in a positive way. We all know that many patients want answers and help right now. Rather than leave them waiting and hanging, why not give them at least a window of expectation when you can? For example, if you know a nurse typically does not return prescription refill requests until late afternoon, passing along that information to an early-morning caller could save him/her a lot of frustration. Likewise, if a specialist appointment takes weeks to secure, be up front about that, rather than leaving the patient waiting and wondering. Your staff should employ an approach of empowering patients with information so that they feel like they know what to expect. This really only takes moments per patient and can make all the difference.
While these tips merely scratch the surface, they hopefully provide food for thought on how to construct a thoughtful operation that considers the patient’s point-of-view. Rather than become overly frustrated with growing dissatisfaction or displaced anger, we can create healthcare environments that function compliantly and efficiently while still supporting patients through small, yet doable actions.
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