Curing people – there are not many other professional occupations, which would appear more romantic to a regular person. Children dream of becoming doctors and only having entered a medical educational establishment do they realize, what a serious responsibility is behind all the romance of the profession. Unfortunately, a profession of doctor is very hard. A doctor is always under a great stress since he or she, being an adequate person, certainly does realize that lives and health of many people depend on his/her actions, his/her decisions. Making a mistake is unacceptable for a medical worker.
A doctor cannot really afford being inattentive and miss something, misunderstand or overlook. Being hundred per cent clear of his/her recommendations and advice. Besides the moral aspect, there also is quite a practical need for that. In case a doctor overlooks something, makes a wrong decision, does something too late or too early, he/she may be sued by the patient for medical malpractice. There are very many of such cases and it is quite natural. A patient can also be understood. Our health is something we care a lot about and when serious difficulties start, we become especially concerned about the matters of health. It is a natural reaction for a patient, who has been treated in a wrong way and whose health has been damaged as a result of such treatment, to address a court. However there are ways in which such unfortunate scenario can be avoided.
This brings us to the subject of risk management for practitioners and family physicians. One of the most important risk management techniques for the doctors is being very careful with the documentation. According to Horan (356) it is critically important to fix everything that may have any relation to the patients’ health in one’s medical records. Documenting everything helps a doctor not only to keep everything under control and prevent overlooking substantial symptoms when diagnosing a patient and making a decision as for further treatment. It will also help the doctor defend himself before the jury in case of some difficulties with the patient’s health occur and the patient decides to address a court.
Another very important hint for a good doctor, who wants to avoid possible hints, is to openly speak to his patients and to explain as clearly as he can results of the treatment, their likelihood, as well as possible results of leaving the case without the treatment or looking for alternative methods of addressing the matter, which are not recommended by the doctor. In case there is an unexpected complication, the doctor needs to openly inform the patient about such and discuss all the aspects of the matter in a plain, easy to understand language, making sure that the patient does totally understand what is happening. One of the most common mistakes some doctors make is hiding the truth from the patients and trying to cope with the complications without informing the patients about the risks and possible solutions.
So, here are three main guidelines, which should most likely keep your patient away from the office of the attorney: first of all the patient needs to be treated in the very same manner you would like to be treated yourself, with proper respect and care. Secondly, all your actions, thoughts and decisions, which have the slightest relation to the matter, need to be documented. And thirdly, you need to be open and honest with your patient regardless of possible complications you may run into. However despite all the doctor’s effort, the patient may still make up his/her mind to address his/her attorney. In this case you need to prepare to defend yourself. This is when all your records become handy again. Looking through your records the jurry will very likely understand, that it is not a case of professional negligence. It is rather a complicated case and the doctor did whatever possible to resolve the problem. Another very important aspect of your defense strategy is being open and respectful with your attorney. You need to teach him the basic medical knowledge required for understanding the case right. It is important to invest some time on explaining medical issues to your attorney…
A very special case in terms of risk management is risk management for family physicians. And here are two very important tips, which may not necessarily come to mind when thinking about risk management, but which happen in everyday practice and need to be addressed with proper attention.
Weiss underlines, that in family physitians’ practice it’s a very common thing to consult patients over the phone. When giving this sort of consultation a physician needs to be extremely cautious. It is important to document every telephone conversation and make hundred per cent certain, that your patient does understand all the information.
Another very important issue is writing prescriptions. The prescription needs to be written very clearly, so that there would not be possible misinterpretations, when reading the prescription. There are medications, which have very close names, and this is why the name of the medication needs to be clearly written, or, if all possible, printed in large font. The patient needs to be informed about other medications, which may look similar or have close names, the patient needs to be informed about the importance of buying the exact medicine and using the prescribed dosage. It is very important to outline possible results of failing to follow the prescription.
There are many other very important hints and tips related to risk management. They are capable of keeping the doctor away from the court room and, at the same time, they prevent him from making mistakes, which may turn out to be fatal. This is why every doctor needs to be well informed about possible risk management techniques and apply this knowledge in his/her everyday practice. This knowledge will certainly teach the doctor to be very careful with his/her words and decisions. Due to these hints the doctor will be extra cautious and will have fewer chances to overlook important things regarding the case. But the most important rule, which the doctor needs to implement in his everyday practice, is to treat the patient in the manner; he/she would desire to be treated themselves. This makes a good and successful doctor.