Preparing Yourself for Malpractice Suit

Increasing Number of Malpractice Suits

For many providers, it’s not a matter of if they will be sued at some point in their career, but when it will happen. It’s quite a common occurrence in today’s society, to a doctor for a poor health outcome, even when the provider has done nothing wrong. You will be surprised to know that 50 percent of all providers will be sued at some point, and 7 percent to 10 percent of cases will end up going to trial. To protect themselves, providers need to recognize how poor business practices are increasing their liability risk and take action to minimize the chance of being named in a lawsuit. Maintaining strong documentation could help you a long way and your entire staff need to understand its importance. If legal action is filed, providers should know what actions need to be taken to begin a successful defense. The report was based on a survey of 4,000 doctors across more than 25 specialties. The 2017 survey found a 15% increase in malpractice suit since Medscape’s last report was published in 2013.

Preparing for Malpractice Suit

As per the statistics mentioned above, as providers are likely to be sued at some point, you should be always work in a way that helps to reduce legal risks. Your strategy should revolve around documentation, communication, and tracking systems. Effective documentation requires you to be as detailed as possible when writing patient notes, providing thought processes when appropriate.

Documenting differential diagnosis as far as what you were thinking it was, what you wanted to rule out, and what the next plan is going to be. It’s important to avoid copying, pasting, and moving bad information forward because other providers may end up relying on this information. Simple mistakes like indicating a patient are male instead of female or a child instead of an adult can make the doctor look sloppy and make the case more difficult to defend.

Informed consent is a major area of emphasis. You have to make sure you are capturing that information on patient understanding. Don’t assume the hospital is going to have it or don’t assume it was scanned into the right chart. When a provider orders a test or a follow-up, they own that and need to be responsible for tracking it. 

Make sure any phone calls and letters also get documented in the record. It doesn’t always have to be the provider that is doing all this follow-up. Anyone from a front desk staff can help with the utilization of portal messages, secure texting, secure emailing, or those types of communication. Whatever the system, it just needs to make sure patients do not get lost and those important tests get done. 

No matter how diligent you are with documentation, a legal action might still be filed. The most important thing is when you receive this information, don’t panic. Evaluate the received communication and check if it’s legal action against the provider or something else, such as a deposition notice. But avoid going back into the medical record as everything is time-stamped and it will be obvious when you were looking at it. And whatever you do, don’t alter the record in any way. 

If it is a malpractice claim, it’s important to not panic. Once you get over the initial shock, become fully engaged in dealing with the claim. Ignoring it or not talking about it isn’t going to help. The more you are invested in it, the more that you understand the process, the better you are going to face it and the better the outcome will be.

Documentation is important but be mindful of what you are adding and when. You need to be an expert in your own medical records. Timely patient communication is equally important as safe and happy patients are less likely to sue.

Sometimes physicians avoid providing with patients telehealth services due to uncertainty of insurance coverage. MedicalBillersandCoders (MBC) can assist you with an inaccurate collection of insurance reimbursement for every submitted claim. We are a leading medical billing company providing complete revenue cycle services. Our team is well versed with payer guidelines and reimbursement policies for telehealth services. To know more about our Malpractice Suit services, contact us at info@medicalbillersandcoders.com /888-357-3226.