Can You Avoid Medical Malpractice Lawsuits?
Thousands of malpractice lawsuits are filed each year, with patients believing that their healthcare professionals failed in their duty to provide an adequate level of care.
With so many lawsuits brought forward, it can seem like there’s no way to avoid medical malpractice lawsuits. The odds are seemingly against you. However, knowing that there are often several recurring themes in malpractice cases, you might reduce the risk by taking the following actions:
Practice Good Medicine
No medical professional ever sets out to be at the center of a malpractice lawsuit, but it can happen when you don’t practice good medicine. While it’s a broad instruction, good medicine can simply be defined as treating every patient as if they were a close family member or friend.
Go above and beyond and see your patients as real people you care about. This is not a tried and true method for avoiding a medical malpractice lawsuit, but a higher level of care may prevent mistakes and, subsequently, poor patient outcomes and lawsuits.
See Test Results Through
Many people assume that no news is good news. While that might be the case sometimes, it’s not all the time. Studies have shown that doctors in the United States fail to report abnormal test results 7% of the time. This percentage equals one in every 14 tests.
If those test results are vital for someone’s health outcomes, doctors might be at risk of a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, that might be avoided with more robust test result measure protocols. Physicians being responsible for test results once they’ve returned from a lab might see fewer patients not being informed of their health outcomes.
Never Make Assumptions
Your experience as a healthcare professional allows you to make assumptions based on your experience. However, assumptions can land doctors in trouble. For example, a National Library of Medicine article stresses the importance of never thinking that a postoperative fever is viral, as it rarely is. Many lawsuits have been brought about by postoperative fevers being attributed to viruses when they are, in fact, related to operation-related sepsis and abscesses. Run tests and ask for second opinions when you aren’t 100% sure of a patient’s condition. You can then rest assured that you’re covered all bases when making a diagnosis.
Don’t Give Up
Being a healthcare professional can be challenging. For example, you might pin all your hopes on a particular therapy, only for your patient to not respond to it. Some patients meet with personal injury lawyers when they don’t believe their healthcare provider did enough to diagnose or treat their illness.
If you find yourself hitting brick walls with therapy and treatment options, think outside the box. Consult specialists, order tests, and try other options. You might be missing something that another professional won’t.
Consider Worst-Case Scenarios
We like to think that our patients won’t experience worst-case diagnoses. However, sometimes even the most uncomplicated symptoms can be worse than we think. By always considering worst-case scenarios, there’s potential for you to avoid situations in which you misdiagnose your patients.
There is no guaranteed way to avoid a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, healthcare professionals may be better placed by prioritizing these actions above.