Any medical professional who has received communication from a lawyer advising of possible litigation from former patients knows that sinking feeling that trouble is ahead. Lawsuits are a fact of life in our society; however, medical professionals can take a number of steps to protect themselves and their staff from litigation.
Ensuring that your health care practice is operating properly under HIPPA rules and regulations is the first step in minimizing your risk of patient lawsuits. HIPAA compliance involves making sure that sensitive patient information remains protected. Providers can be sued for acts such as data breaches that don’t even involve direct patient care if their electronic informational records are compromised. Make sure that you take all necessary steps in protecting electronic data to avoid legal action.
All medical professionals should have a professional liability insurance policy for asset protection in the event of a lawsuit. This type of insurance is commonly known as medical malpractice or medical indemnity, and it is an absolute necessity for all medical providers. It can shield you and your operation against claims of medical negligence. According to Legally Mine, over 30% of physicians encounter a medical liability lawsuit at some point during their careers. So when you take this into account, you can see why it’s extremely unwise not to have some type of asset protection in place. Just one lawsuit can wipe out an entire practice if you don’t have medical malpractice coverage.
Determining which patients are likely to sue is not easy; most lawsuits seemingly come out of nowhere. However, some patients provide clues. One big red flag involves the patient who complains vociferously about prior care. In other words, they expect the outcome to be bad. Avoid these situations by fully explaining the risks and possible outcomes of procedures, and, even more importantly, by checking that your consent forms are up-to-date. Taking the time to explain options to patients, including the option of doing nothing, will go a long way toward avoiding lawsuits.
Protecting your healthcare practice involves following a lot of common sense practices. Following HIPAA regulations and having indemnity insurance that covers accidental errors and omissions are crucial practices. Also, fully explaining options to patients while keeping consent forms updated will help eliminate many questionable circumstances. Remember that you won’t be able to mitigate all unhappy patients, but being fully prepared will help save your operation from crippling legal action.
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