Unfortunately, every practice is exposed to risk, and with risk comes the potential of a lawsuit. This article outlines the 5 most common malpractice claims and tips on how to avoid them.
- Inadequate Informed Consent – Having the proper informed consent documents for each patient is critical and one of the easiest areas of your practice to correct. There are many online resources available offering sample informed consent documents for specific ophthalmic procedures. Your insurance carrier will be able to steer you in the right direction.
- Unsafe Office Environment — Practice owners are required by law to provide a safe environment for their patients and employees, as defined by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA offers a free online, interactive Hazard Identification Training Tool to help you and your staff locate– and correct– any potential violations.
- Failure to Document/Altered Documents/Incomplete History – Gaps in documentation are a primary target in malpractice litigation. Train your staff to document everything, even missed appointments and noncompliance with medication regimen, in order to avoid this pitfall.
- Patient Abandonment – There is a protocol for terminating a patient/physician relationship. A patient in need of care cannot simply be dropped for failure to pay. Document, in detail, a patient’s noncompliance. Contact the patient over the phone and in writing to express your concern about the noncompliance. Suggest a second opinion. Put the terms of termination in a separate letter, making sure to recommend another optometrist in the area for continued treatment.
- Jumping to a Diagnosis – When uncertain of an accurate diagnosis, practice defensive medicine by ordering additional, specialized tests. If still uncertain, obtain a second opinion from a subspecialist.
In general, it’s always a best practice to protect yourself against a malpractice suit with the proper malpractice insurance. If you’re curious about your coverage and would like to hear about your options, call one of the Lockton Affinity specialists at 888.343.1998. We’ll be happy to answer your questions.