Why Empathizing With Your Patients May Reduce Malpractice Risk
As a medical professional, you know that patients often have no idea what goes on behind the scenes in your practice. As such, patients’ expectations do not often mesh with the reality of modern medical care. While you can understandably become frustrated with noisy, less-than-satisfied patients, one of the easiest ways to head off malpractice claims is to put yourself in their shoes. As a firm that is passionate about the representation of doctors, Doyle Schafer McMahon, LLP also wants your patients to get the best healthcare possible, and as we all know, an ounce of prevention is certainly worth a pound of cure.
As you approach patient care, you have to understand that you are already facing an uphill battle in terms of patient satisfaction. Many are struggling under the ACA changes, paying more for insurance policies that cover less and less. They do not read the fine print of changing policies, and often get nasty financial surprises when they realize that once-covered services no longer apply to them. They have no idea of the costs you bear; they only see themselves struggling to pay their own bills while also getting the most basic healthcare. How can you combat the growing climate of patient disillusion? You may be surprised to discover that a few simple steps can help maintain goodwill, thereby reducing your malpractice claim risks:
- First, help train your staff in customer service principles. Inevitably, you will always deal with patients who cannot be satisfied no matter what you do. However, your staff can still cultivate a culture of courtesy and compassion. For example, if a nurse cannot return calls until the end of the day, let your patients know this so they are not waiting by the phone. If you are experiencing a rough day and anticipate delays or wait times, telling your patients at check-in can help them reframe their expectations and promote understanding. While you can never make promises, you can help them understand the whys and show that you value their time.
- HIPAA exists for a reason, and as HIPAA lawyers, we know well how a seemingly innocent exchange can put your practice at risk. Your staff and service providers need adequate training, as well as an understanding that you have a zero-tolerance policy for violations. Your patients need to know that your staff values privacy more than the gossip they may unwittingly share. Even the simplest slip can be a gross violation of your patients’ rights, which puts your practice at risk.
- As with any service-oriented industry, medical practices face similar levels of disenchantment and burnout as law enforcement or social services. Your staff can easily become numbed to the individuality of each patient. Watch for warning signs and provide your staff with the support they need to avoid this situation.
As medical license defense attorneys, we appreciate the difficult balance between successful practice and patient satisfaction.
However, we also believe that a significant way to reduce risks starts with remembering who your patients are and empathizing with their own experiences.
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