The rise of malpractice claims is an unfortunate part of working in the healthcare industry. Below, we’ll explain how a malpractice lawsuit can impact any healthcare provider’s career, from reputational damage to lengthy court proceedings.
Loss of Work & Reputational Damage
The primary effect that a malpractice claim can have against an individual is permanently damaging their reputation and causing a loss of work. Depending on the severity and outcome of the claim and incident, a healthcare provider may be immediately terminated from their position.
A malpractice claim can cost an individual their current position and prevent them from securing the same position somewhere due to the reputational damage from the lawsuit. Reputation and trust are essential to securing employment in the healthcare industry, and a malpractice claim can permanently stain anyone’s career and prevent future work.
The length of the proceedings is another aspect of a malpractice lawsuit that can impact a healthcare provider’s career. A malpractice case, even one decided relatively quickly via settlement, will often take over a year, with some cases stretching for multiple years.
A malpractice claim hanging over the head of a professional can add significant stress and distraction, like a black cloud following them everywhere. The time it takes to resolve a claim can be immensely frustrating and discouraging for those who want to resolve the claim and move on with their careers and lives.
Decline in Job Performance
It’s easy to see how the looming threat of a malpractice claim can affect the job performance of a healthcare provider. Professionals in this field must be confident in their knowledge and abilities while working, but a malpractice suit undermines self-confidence.
The significance of the lawsuit and the perpetual waiting can easily lead to a decline in job performance, as healthcare providers are distracted, frustrated, and exhausted from the lengthy and cumbersome process.
Disillusionment With Career
All these effects of a malpractice lawsuit have led to many healthcare providers becoming disillusioned with their careers and the entire industry. While many people enter healthcare because they want to help others, the legal entanglement and frustration of a malpractice claim have forced many to change their careers due to their disappointment.
Even those who settle their malpractice claim or win the lawsuit and are absolved of any wrongdoing have changed careers for an industry with fewer risks as a healthcare provider. It’s an unfortunate and darker side of healthcare that many can’t stomach after direct exposure.
A malpractice lawsuit can negatively affect a healthcare provider’s career in many ways, which is why malpractice insurance is essential. At Baxter & Associates, we help healthcare professionals get the necessary coverage they need, whether that’s CRNA moonlighting malpractice insurance or another form of insurance. Contact our staff if you’d like to learn more about malpractice insurance today.
Informed consent is one of the most fundamental principles of healthcare. If you plan on working in the industry or want to learn more, we explain what every healthcare worker should know about informed consent below.
Informed Consent, Defined
First, let’s define informed consent and why it is important. Informed consent is the communication process between the patient and healthcare provider—whether a surgeon, primary physician, or chiropractor—that leads to an agreement of permission for care and services, signed by the patient.
Informed consent is also a legal right for the patient or their picked surrogate to have autonomy and choice regarding their treatment and the potential risks involved. If the patient can mentally make their own decisions, medical treatment and services cannot be performed without their consent. Their consent must include full knowledge of the treatment and potential complications.
The Purpose of Informed Consent
Those who work in healthcare should know that informed consent satisfies a legal, ethical, and administrative compliance purpose for both the patient and healthcare provider.
Informed consent is typically a legal document that a patient signs that states they understand the treatment and risks involved and consent to it. For one, this protects the patient from assault, as the document is also binding—healthcare providers are not allowed to overstep the purview of treatment in the form unless in life-threatening, time-sensitive emergencies.
It’s also a form of protection for the doctor as it states the potential complications of the treatment or procedure. The patient states on the form that they understand and consent to such treatment. This signature doesn’t completely shield the healthcare provider from potential malpractice should complications arise, but it’s valuable documentation that shows the patient understood the potential risks.
Informed consent also has a moral purpose—to protect the patient’s autonomy. Through legal court cases, an ethical standard has gotten crafted that guarantee’s a patient the right to have autonomous decision-making for their treatment if they have the mental capacity to make such decisions.
For example, the ethical purpose of informed consent is that a patient can refuse treatment or procedures based on religious grounds, like a Jehovah’s Witness refusing a blood transfusion and not having autonomy or mental capacity questioned. It also has the moral purpose of ensuring that the patient has the right to set their own goals for treatment, not the healthcare provider.
As the informed consent process is typically finalized with the signature on a written document, it also has an administrative compliance purpose. The informed consent form is a written document showing both parties’ consent regarding treatment and complications.
This simple document provides safeguards to fulfill the legal and ethical purposes of informed consent we discussed.
The Origins of Informed Consent
While it may seem obvious now, informed consent was not a legally binding concept until the 1950s. The origins of the legal concept as we understand it today were born out of multiple malpractice cases in the early twentieth century from patients against providers, and a standard legal concept got crafted out of these decisions.
In one case, a patient agreed to undergo an ear operation, but after they got anesthetized, the doctor changed plans and operated on the other ear, causing hearing loss. The patient sued the doctor for changing plans without her consent. Other cases involving doctors unintentionally and intentionally misleading or withholding information from patients or even performing different procedures than agreed to helped create the legally-binding foundation of informed consent as we know it today.
Elements of Informed Consent
An informed consent form and agreement must incorporate a few elements to get deemed truthful and legally binding.
Patient Competency & Explanation of Risks
For one, the patient must get deemed competent to understand and make healthcare decisions. In cases of mental health ailments, the patient and the healthcare provider can scrutinize and challenge this element.
If deemed competent, the informed consent form must also provide a sufficient explanation of the treatment, its benefits, and the risks. This explanation of treatment is the informed element of the form—if the healthcare provider withholds or includes misleading information regarding the treatment, they’ve violated the patient’s informed consent.
Patient Understands & Authorizes Treatment
The patient or the appointed decision-maker for the patient must understand the treatment, its benefits, and its risks fully. In healthcare, this can be difficult with such complex terminology and treatments, but it’s paramount for providers to feel they’ve explained it in detail and informed the decision-maker.
Once the patient or decision-maker understands, they must authorize the treatment plan, typically with a signature. Without a signature on the form, the healthcare provider can get found to have violated patient autonomy and be legally exposed.
What Chiropractors Must Know About Informed Consent
Informed consent is also an essential part of chiropractic healthcare. Since chiropractic care is an alternative treatment to other methods like drugs or surgery, the patients who visit chiropractic clinics are typically enthusiastic and willing to receive treatment.
Even so, it’s paramount that chiropractors explain the risks and details of every treatment and receive written authorization for treatment via an informed consent form.
Chiropractic Malpractice Issues Arising From Informed Consent Violations
While the risks associated with chiropractic treatment are relatively low compared to other types of treatment, malpractice issues can arise from informed consent violations. The most common complication that occurs from spinal manipulation treatment is muscle soreness.
Muscle soreness may not seem like a big deal, but if it debilitates the patient enough to where they can’t work, or their quality of life gets reduced, they may seek compensation. And without a signed informed consent form explaining that muscle soreness is a potential complication of chiropractic treatment, a chiropractor could get left exposed to a malpractice claim.
This shows the importance of understanding informed consent and having malpractice insurance for chiropractors. Every chiropractor should be intimately familiar with the legal parameters of informed consent and have forms ready for every patient about to undergo spinal manipulation treatment.
If you’d like to learn more about informed consent or need to find malpractice insurance for yourself or your practice, Baxter & Associates can help you learn more about medical malpractice and help find a policy plan that fits your situation.
Informed consent is a part of the job that all CRNAs need to know. Below, we’ll explain the basics of informed consent, its elements, and how it relates to the duties of CRNAs.
What Is Informed Consent?
Informed consent is one of the fundamental ethical principles in modern medicine and guarantees a patient’s right to self-determination. The medical-legal concept of informed consent as we know it first came about through various court cases in the mid-20th century that stated patients have the right to informed consent.
Basically, informed consent is the communication process between the patient and physician that leads to an agreement or permission for care, treatment, or services. The patient (or their legal representative) has the right to obtain all the information regarding a procedure or treatment and the risks involved before treatment can begin.
What Are the Elements of Informed Consent?
First, the physician must identify an appropriate person to provide informed consent to if the client is incapacitated or mentally unfit to receive and act on the information. Then, the physician will describe the treatment or procedure and provide written materials when possible.
The physician will also describe the risks involved, give their professional opinion on the patient’s options, and answer any questions. The patient can ask questions and obtain a second opinion if they want. If the patient consents to the treatment, they (or their representative) will sign a written letter of informed consent stating their approval.
Can a CRNA Obtain Informed Consent?
While we’ve mentioned physicians obtaining informed consent, can CRNAs obtain it? Yes, a CRNA or nurse will often take on the task of obtaining informed consent. Still, the physician or anesthesiologist will typically be the one to explain the gist and details of the treatment and risks involved.
Usually, the CRNA is the one who returns to the patient later to obtain and witness the written informed consent and answer further questions from the patient. For many CRNAs, it’s one of the basic parts of their responsibilities.
What Are Considered Violations of Informed Consent?
Informed consent is also an area where malpractice cases can occur due to a perceived or real violation of the patient’s rights regarding it. CRNAs need to know that failure to obtain informed consent or withholding pertinent information regarding the treatment or procedure and risks is a significant form of negligence and malpractice.
The most common violation of informed consent is inadequately warning a patient of the risks associated with the medical procedure. If complications arise, it’s not uncommon for patients or their representatives to feel deceived or insufficiently informed regarding the risks. For this reason, CRNA malpractice insurance is essential for all CRNAs.
If you’re a CRNA that needs malpractice insurance, Baxter & Associates is here for you. We will help you find a plan that ensures you’re covered should a malpractice claim arise from an alleged breach of informed consent.