Risk Management Tools & Resources


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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10 Strategies for Communicating Effectively With Senior Care Residents

The question of how to communicate effectively has persisted in healthcare for years. Communication has long been recognized as a complex process that is prone to errors, oversights, and misunderstandings. In terms of patient safety and malpractice risk, the implications of inadequate or poor communication are substantial.

An analysis of almost 124,000 medical professional liability cases filed over a 10-year period shows that communication issues, which were found in all care settings, were one of the top contributing factors in malpractice claims.1 Another analysis found that 37 percent of all high-severity cases involved a communication failure.2

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Nonverbal Communication: 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, much of daily communication is nonverbal and may encompass facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, posture, and tone of voice.

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.1

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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 years leading up to 2020, the adoption of telehealth was growing steadily — but not staggeringly — in healthcare practices and hospitals.1

Beginning in March 2020, the 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. Although the use of telehealth has receded from its peak during the pandemic, it almost certainly will remain a critical tool in healthcare delivery — particularly since access to care remains a top concern.

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Toxic Behaviors: Addressing Patient Bias and Discrimination

Bias and discrimination are unfortunate realities that affect many social institutions, including healthcare. Research and literature about bias in healthcare often focus on how clinicians’ cognitive and implicit biases can undermine provider–patient relationships, lead to poor diagnostic and treatment decisions, negatively affect patient outcomes, and perpetuate health inequities and disparities.

But what happens when healthcare providers face discriminatory behaviors from patients? This problem has received more attention in recent years for numerous reasons, including increased scrutiny of race relations in the United States, the dire need to improve the mental and physical well-being of healthcare workers, and a growing emphasis on improving diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within the healthcare environment.

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

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

Although the volume of diagnosis-related claims is significantly lower than the volume of claims for the top allegation category in otolaryngology — surgical treatment and procedures — 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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Administrative Strategies for Preventing the Transmission of Infectious Diseases

The healthcare community has long considered infection prevention and control (IPC) strategies critical to patient safety, worker safety, and overall public health. The significance of these measures is even more pronounced in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and in preparation for 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 best practices for antibiotic stewardship.

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Protecting Patient Confidentiality: A Legal and Ethical Obligation

Trust is a fundamental element of the provider–patient relationship, and building trust helps ensure that patients disclose accurate and thorough health information to doctors and other healthcare personnel. In turn, healthcare providers and staff members have an ethical and legal responsibility to protect patient confidentiality and prevent unauthorized disclosure of patients’ protected health information (PHI).

Both state and federal laws address patient confidentiality and release of health information. Some state laws are more specific than federal laws about certain aspects of confidentiality, such as the definition of an emancipated minor or information pertaining to the treatment of mental illness. Providers and staff members should understand these legal requirements and their role in upholding them.

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