Being a healthcare professional means it’s your job to save lives. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible. For example, patients can sometimes become too ill to recover or a risky surgery might be unsuccessful. Despite the best efforts of medical professionals, these things are an inevitability of their career. Those who have been affected might not understand this and, in their grief, try to take legal action against you. As people have become more litigious in recent years, the likelihood of this happening has significantly increased too. For this reason, it’s important for medical practices to protect themselves from legal action, whilst still ensuring the highest standard of care for their patients. Let’s look at the different ways you can do so.
1. Regular audits
Medical practices should regularly conduct audits on how their operations and policies are being enacted. This will help them to identify areas where problems are consistently arising, allowing them to correct these policies and reduce the likelihood of legal action being taken against them. Audits can also highlight where things could be run more efficiently, ensuring the highest quality of care for patients. But perhaps the most important thing about audits is assessing the members of staff. This allows you to check for malpractice within the organisation and discourages it from happening in the first place. By having only the best members of staff for your medical practice, you can improve patient care and feel confident in the fact your organisation won’t have done anything wrong in the case of legal action.
2. Medical insurance
Medical insurance is important for both the patient and the practice. No matter your skills or experience, sometimes things can go wrong. In the case of surgeries, this can have huge financial implications for both parties. For instance, if a patient lost feeling in their leg afterwards, they would need mobility support for the rest of their life. Medical indemnity insurance helps to protect the surgeon from the cost of legal fees, plus helps them to pay for their patient’s future medical care as compensation. In the case of an unfair legal action being taken against them, any defence fees are paid for; while in the case of proven malpractice, the patient receives all the compensation.
3. Enforcing policies
Alongside an audit, the managers of medical practices need to properly enforce policies for health, safety and legality. This includes providing an adequate amount of training to employees, reminding them of good practice, and chasing people up to ensure they’re doing so. By doing this, they reduce the likelihood of malpractice being inadvertently conducted and guarantee a high standard of care for patients. Having evidence that you’ve stuck to medical guidelines will also help healthcare organisations to prove their innocence when it comes to false claims of misconduct.
4. Customer service
Medical practices are business organisations in a sense, so they need to maintain good relationships with their customers (i.e. the patients). By soliciting feedback on how they’ve done, they can identify problem areas and correct them, thereby upkeeping a good standard of care. Customer service can also help medical practices nip the problem in the bud before it grows into a much larger issue, which could result in legal action being taken. Treating your patients and their loved ones with respect and compassion will reflect well on your organisation, too. The fewer complaints against you, the less traction and evidence a case against you will have.
These are some of the main ways to protect your medical practice from legal action. Always prioritise good patient care and you’ll have fewer cases made against you, plus allegations of misconduct will have no grounding.