Risk Management Tools & Resources


Nonverbal Communication as an Essential Element of Patient-Centered Care


Effective verbal communication is the bedrock of high-quality, patient-centered care. Healthcare providers undoubtedly are aware of the continued emphasis and importance placed on verbal communication through various quality measures and standards. However, good nonverbal communication — facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, posture, and tone of voice — also is essential. Research suggests that the majority of daily communication is nonverbal, which stresses the importance that this aspect of communication plays in human interactions.1

The ability to understand and use nonverbal communication, or body language, is a powerful tool that can help healthcare professionals connect with patients in a positive way and reinforce mutual understanding and respect.2

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Record Retention Basics for Healthcare Practices


Healthcare practices generate and maintain many different types of records, including patient health records and business records. These records help each organization maintain critical information and deliver quality services and care.

To protect records, healthcare practices should develop and implement formal record retention policies and procedures. Doing so will help establish a systematic and organized approach to record management. Further, formal policies and procedures may help defend against allegations of spoliation — i.e., that records were deliberately or maliciously destroyed.

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Ethical Concerns About Terminating a Provider–Patient Relationship During the Pandemic

Laura M. Cascella, MA, CPHRM


The outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has rocked the healthcare community, sending ripples of uncertainty in relation to patient and healthcare worker safety, financial security, ethical decision-making, standards of care, and beyond. Decisions, choices, and actions that were already difficult prior to COVID-19 — such as terminating a provider–patient relationship — have become even more complex in the face of the ongoing pandemic.

Yet, these situations will undoubtedly still arise, particularly as healthcare professionals resume services, triage patient care needs, and adapt to developing standards and practices precipitated by the evolution of the virus.

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Ineffective Communication in Cardiology: Addressing a Persistent Risk Factor in Malpractice Claims

Laura M. Cascella, MA, CPHRM


Providing coordinated and competent patient care involves precision at many points in the clinical process, particularly when sending and receiving information. Although information transfer seems like a fairly straightforward process, the complex and dynamic nature of healthcare presents numerous communication obstacles.

As a result of these obstacles, ineffective communication among healthcare professionals is one of the leading causes of medical errors and patient harm.1 Further, analysis of malpractice claims shows that communication is a common contributing factor in claims across various specialties.2

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Assessing Diagnosis-Related Allegations in Otolaryngology Claims: The Complexities of Clinical Reasoning

Laura M. Cascella, MA, CPHRM


Diagnostic errors are a persistent issue in healthcare, and they are top liability risk for many medical specialties. A review of 10 years of closed claims data for otolaryngology shows that diagnosis-related allegations account for almost 1 in 5 claims.1

Although the volume of diagnosis-related claims is significantly lower than the volume of claims for the top allegation category — procedural performance, which accounts for almost half of all otolaryngology claims — these cases still can be consequential in terms of poor patient outcomes and total dollars paid (i.e., expense and indemnity dollars).

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Bridging the Digital Divide: Creating a Personalized Telehealth Experience

Technology advances over the past decades have taken telehealth from a novel concept to a widespread reality. In the several years prior to 2020, the adoption of telehealth was growing steadily — but not staggeringly — in healthcare practices and hospitals.1

Within months of the turn of the new decade, telehealth received a sudden, albeit somber, boost. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic magnified the importance of telehealth as a vital component of patient care when many healthcare practices and facilities closed their doors to nonemergency treatment in an effort to stem the disease outbreak. In the wake of COVID-19, many healthcare experts and leaders speculate that telehealth will continue to flourish and offer viable options for receiving and delivering remote care and treatment.

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Administrative Strategies for Preventing the Transmission of Infectious Diseases

Individuals in the healthcare community have long considered infection prevention and control (IPC) strategies critical to patient safety, worker safety, and overall public health. The criticality of these measures is even more pronounced in the wake of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and in preparation for potential future infectious disease outbreaks.

Often, IPC efforts focus on following standard precautions and transmission-based precautions, appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE), sterilizing and disinfecting reusable equipment, using safe injection techniques, and implementing practices that support antibiotic stewardship.

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Strategies for Disclosing an Unanticipated Outcome

Disclosing an unanticipated outcome to a patient and/or their family members can be daunting and stressful. Healthcare providers may worry about the possibility of litigation, damage to their reputations, workplace consequences, or even just upsetting patients/families.

In recent years, however, many professional associations and organizations have endorsed the concept of disclosure as part of patient-centered care, and studies show that communication-and-response techniques that include early disclosure may reduce malpractice suits and litigation costs.1

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