As a doctor or physician, your world is a stressful and hurried one; it doesn’t matter whether you’re a pediatrician, a surgeon or a gynecologist – caring for a person’s health, being partly responsible with their lives and wellbeing can be incredibly difficult and consuming. And if you’re lucky enough to have a big practice, then you have to deal with even more cases; exhaustion and inattention can lead to medical malpractice negligence, in which case your whole career is on the line, or you risk losing your job, your position in society, and even your business if you go bankrupt paying compensation claims.
Although every case of medical malpractice should be compensated, we are going to take a look at some of the things a doctor can do in order to avoid negligence claims. This is a win-win situation for everyone: for the patients who no longer suffer, and for the doctors, who save more lives and don’t have to pay for it. Here is what you can do:
Make it official – Every time you get another patient, you should draw up a retainer letter that specifies the terms of your engagement; there, it should be clear what your responsibilities are and what you have been hired to do. This document could be extremely useful in case of an unfounded negligence claim.
Clarify payments – You should always get paid up front, at least partially, for what you have been retained to do, and set up a comprehensive accounting system to know which patients still have to pay you and how much you are owed. Avoid practicing for the patients who don’t pay, otherwise you both may have legal issues along the road. Insolvency is a grave issue.
Manage client expectations – Your customers should always know exactly what to expect from you; explain what treatments or procedures are necessary for their conditions and what will happen in their course, step by step. That way, you avoid misunderstandings, and patients will be less inclined to consider negligence. Clients should also be informed of the costs and how and when they should be paid.
Document your cases – While it can be a waste of time and resources to document every single case, you can do it with those that are more complex and complicated, and where medical negligence can actually occur. That way, you will be able to follow your own course of action and consult your own notes when decisions must be taken. Moreover, those notes could be accepted as proof in a court of law, saving you from possible financial losses and unfounded claims.
Set realistic deadlines – Medical negligence claims will sometimes be founded on the idea that the doctor didn’t cure the patient on the promised deadline, considering delayed diagnosis, negligent supervision or delayed treatment. That is why it is important to set realistic deadlines for each case, and to try to beat those deadlines, preventing any misunderstanding and letting patients know where the status of their names comes from.
Avoid annoying clients – This is the golden rule of every practice or business; knowing how to treat your clients can help save you from a world of trouble. Thus, avoid and try not to forget to give or return calls and emails, to notify clients of various news or sending them large invoices without having previously discussed them.
No suing for fees – If a client fails to pay up their fees, you should avoid as much as possible to sue them for it, because in most cases you will receive a counterclaim for negligence. Instead, try to get the money through other methods.
These are just some of the things doctors, physicians and hospitals can do in order to avoid claims of medical malpractice negligence. They cannot always be avoided, and sometimes they are quite straightforward, but the more we manage to avoid, the more both parties will win.