The Medical Staff Coordinator asked me to write a written discussion on professional liability and medical malpractice. In this discussion there will be two parts. The first part I will be defining what liability, malpractice, and summarize the general liability when a physician/ employer is responsible. The second part I will be discussing medical malpractice prevention, summarize the 4 Cs, and the role and purpose of risk management.
Per US Legal, “Liability refers to the responsibility, under law or equity, for which a party is bound or obliged to make restitution, compensation, or satisfaction to another for loss or harm.” Malpractice refers to when a medical practitioner does an improper, illegal, or negligent activity or treatment to a patient. All adults that are responsible for their acts are liable with their jobs and their personal lives. When an employee works for a physician, there are three general liabilities that they are responsible for. The first one is the practice’s building and grounds. It is very important for employers to make sure the building and grounds are upkeep to make sure there are no injuries to patients and employees. Employers also needs to make sure that patients’ medical records are protected at all cost. Employers also needs to make sure they are covered for fire, theft, and liability insurance just in case someone does get hurt on the premises. The second one is automobiles. If an employer has an employee use an automobile to do their tasks, then the employer is responsible for liability. For example, if the employee was dropping off mail at the post office and the employee causes an accident, the employer is liable. The reason the employer is liable is, because the employee is on the clock doing what the employer asked the employee to do. So, before an employer has an employee drive an automobile the employer should make sure they have adequate insurance for automobiles. The third one is employee safety. When an employer hires employee they are responsible for making sure the work environment is a safe place to work and reasonable comfortable. The employer should check with any state and federal laws to make sure they are in compliance with any regulations regarding the workplace. If the employees have to handle any hazardous laboratory wastes and materials there should be a general safety procedure book present for the employees to follow (Judson, p 121-122).
Healthcare providers should take necessary steps to ensure they are not making any medical errors and that the providers are well trained. When it comes to medical malpractice prevention there are four Cs to follow. They are caring, communication, competence, and charting. When healthcare professionals are treating patients, it is very important that the patient feels like the provider cares for their well-being. If the patient believes that the provider cares they would trust the provider more when it comes to treatment plans. Also, if the treatment doesn’t go as planned, the patient might not feel like the provider did anything wrong if the provider is caring and compassionate. The biggest thing that a provider can do when treating a patient is making sure that the patient understands what is going on. When a provider makes sure that the patient is on the same page, the patient tends to trust and respect the provider more. If a healthcare professional is taking telephone messages or scheduling appointments, they need to make sure they are done accurately. Competence is a very important prevention for healthcare professionals. Let say a patient goes to see his primary care doctor for having urinary issues. The provider does some tests and finds out that the patient has prostate cancer. The primary care doctor would refer the patient to see a urologist, because that isn’t the primary care doctor’s scope of practice. Healthcare providers should constantly update their knowledge and skills to make sure they are up to date in their fields. Last, but not least is Charting. When it comes to malpractice prevention charting is very important and crucial. When a healthcare professional documents a chart that is proof that something was done for the patient. If a provider has a patient get a procedure or test done and its not documented, it means it wasn’t done. Healthcare professionals should make sure that a patient’s medical record is documented accurately, because the record can be used legally or can harm the patient if something was entered incorrectly. Healthcare professionals should never write anything in the patient’s chart that they wouldn’t want the patient to see (Judson, p 152).
Another prevention for malpractice liability is risk management. Risk management takes the necessary steps to minimize danger, hazard, and liability. Risk management does that by identifying problem practices, or behaviors, and then getting rid of them or controlling them. Some of the risk management activities that can help avoid malpractice suits is providing written descriptions for each healthcare employee that works under the clinic or facility. Also, it is very important to have office procedure manuals and employee handbooks that covers everything that is important to know for the clinic or facility. By doing this it helps reduce the risk for liability for the clinic or facility (Judson, p 163).
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