Doctors can avoid malpractice claims
A study analyzed malpractice claims in which large payments were made. In nearly half of the cases the incident occurred within a month of the patient’s initial encounter with the physician. In almost 20 percent of the cases the injury occurred during the first visit. Several studies have found that the most frequent factors influencing the decision to seek a legal settlement include altered records, poor documentation, informed consent problems, failure to see the patient promptly and failure to obtain or follow the advice of a consultant.
To reduce the chances of being sued and of adverse litigation results, physicians are advised to:
1. Establish rapport with the patient as promptly as possible.
2. Never alter medical records.
3. Believe all symptoms expressed by patients, particularly children, and take all necessary steps to evaluate them properly.
4. Involve patients actively in making treatment decisions through informed consent.
Text and illustrations by Kevin T. Boyd