Some of the most common claims optometrists face are generally preventable. Learn how to protect your practice from these five common malpractice claims.
Understanding Malpractice Claims Optometrists Face
Most malpractice claims allege negligence on the part of an optometrist and a failure to adhere to the standard of care that results in an injury to the patient. A poor outcome, even when an optometrist has done everything correctly, can be interpreted by a patient as negligence and also result in an allegation. These claims of negligence can take various forms, the most common of which are:
1. Failure to Diagnose
The most common claim facing optometrists has to do with a failure to correctly diagnose a disease, including misdiagnosis and lack of a diagnosis. Many other types of malpractice claims will begin from a failure to diagnose claim.
2. Failure to Dilate the Pupil
A large percentage of claims involve a failure to dilate the pupil. Optometrists who choose not to dilate the pupil during an examination may be at increased risk of a lawsuit, because a lack of pupil dilation can increase the chance of missing pathology or making an incorrect diagnosis. On rare occasion, dilation itself may cause a liability claim, due to slip-and-fall accidents that occur in the office or on the premises. The risk for these claims can be reduced by warning patients of dilation side effects and providing mydriatic sunglasses.
3. Improper Client Termination or Referral
Malpractice claims have been made when delayed treatment with a poor outcome results. It’s important to remember that an optometrist has a legal responsibility for a patient until treatment has concluded or the patient is referred to another practitioner for care.
4. Neglecting Informed Consent
Claims where an injury results from care often focus on whether informed consent was obtained and documented as required. Like all professionals in healthcare-related fields, informed consent must be obtained before tests, procedures and treatments. Missing the documentation of informed consent opens you up to malpractice claims.
5. Poor Recordkeeping
A large number of claims involve allegations of poor recordkeeping by optometrists. A lack of documentation can not only lead to missed diagnoses, incomplete referrals, missed follow-ups, and missing informed consent documentation, it can also hurt your case defending against these and other malpractice claims. However, most recordkeeping problems are entirely preventable with the proper procedures.
An awareness of the most common claims facing optometrists is the first step to reducing your risk of a stressful and costly malpractice lawsuit. The right precautions can go a long way to minimizing your chance of a serious claim.
Malpractice Insurance from Lockton Affinity
With Malpractice insurance, administered by Lockton Affinity, you can get the coverage you need to protect your practice and your career. With Lockton Affinity, you are protected with the only malpractice insurance endorsed by the AOA at a competitive cost and with flexibility that suits optometrists who practice in group settings. Email Lockton Affinity at Info@AOAInsuranceAlliance.com to learn more.