8 ways to elude a malpractice lawsuit

So you want not to be decimated by a malpractice lawsuit? I understand that, and I agree. Here are eight ways to elude that destiny.

Way number 1. Don’t do malpractice.

Way number 2. Care deeply about your patients; and let them know by your actions that you really do care.

Way number 3. Communicate diligently with your patients so that you and they are on the same page and understand together what is going on. Share with them the benefits, costs, and risks of the various diagnostic and therapeutic procedures that you wish to use, and decide together to go forward.

Way number 4. If a medical mistake or error does happen and the patient is harmed, tell the patient and apologize if appropriate. Along with your institution, offer a settlement for damages, and tell the patient that you and the organization have learned from the error and have instituted corrective actions to prevent it from happening again.

Way number 5. Recognize that the majority of actual errors that do harm patients never come to lawsuit.

Way number 6. Recognize that the majority of unhappy patient encounters with or without harm that do come to lawsuit are without actual merit.

Way number 7. Recognize that the majority of lawsuits threatened are withdrawn or settled, often unrelated to merit.

Way number 8. Work to achieve a system of binding arbitration in your state.

At the end of the day, recognize that the American system of dealing with medical professional liability, so called malpractice, sucks, and that stuff (so to speak) happens.

But they will not vanish, so arm yourself with ways number 1 through 8, and be positive.

Many times the good guys actually do win.

George Lundberg is a MedPage Today Editor-at-Large and former editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Originally published in MedPage Today. Visit MedPageToday.com for more health policy news.

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