Medical malpractice suits are always a concern for medical professionals. Below, we explain the four “Cs” of medical malpractice prevention that each medical professional should know to avoid malpractice cases.
Compassion or caring should be self-explanatory for anyone in the medical profession who wants to help people. Doctors and nurses must sympathize with and show concern for their patients to help create a bond of trust.
One of the most common complaints and catalysts of medical malpractice claims against nurses or doctors is that the patient felt ignored or that the medical professional didn’t care about them. Take the time to go the extra mile with a patient and be honest with them to create a more compassionate yet professional relationship.
Communication is another critical factor in medical malpractice prevention. Communication encompasses verbal and non-verbal contact between medical professionals and between the medical professional and the patient.
Communication with a patient is critical, as the patient must feel their doctor or nurse is listening and giving them plenty of opportunities to ask questions as they review the problem and course of treatment, so they understand what’s happening. Communication between staff is also critical, as miscommunication or delayed communication can cause a domino effect that negatively impacts the patient’s health and causes harm.
Obviously, a medical professional must be competent if they want to avoid medical malpractice claims. A doctor or nurse should realize when a situation is outside their purview and recommend a patient to someone more competent when needed.
But the competence of malpractice prevention is also about staying capable in their position. The medical industry changes so often that doctors and nurses must constantly stay up-to-date with their training and education, so as not to use outdated practices and technology on the patients, potentially causing harm.
Charting is perhaps the most important factor in malpractice prevention and can be the easiest strategy. Proper documentation is critical to competent treatment and provides a detailed written record of the patient’s medical history.
A doctor needs quality documentation to adequately treat a patient, as it can cause significant harm if something’s missing or incorrect. The chart is often a key piece of evidence, so it’s crucial to ensure it’s accurate and up-to-date if a medical malpractice case goes to court.
Even if you follow every strategy of malpractice prevention, you may still be hit with a malpractice claim. Baxter & Associates can help medical professionals find specialized policies, like CRNA liability insurance. Contact our staff if you have medical malpractice questions or need a professional liability policy today.
Malpractice cases are an unfortunate part of the job of every health-care provider, including nurse practitioners. Below, we’ll explain the elements of medical malpractice and discuss some common examples of malpractice suits brought against nurse practitioners.
The Elements of Medical Malpractice
Before we get into examples of professional liability cases against nurse practitioners (NPs), we’ll discuss what it takes for a court to find a nurse practitioner liable. In the courts, four elements of malpractice liability must be present for the courts to find an NP or other medical professional professionally liable for harm to a patient.
Duty Owed to Patient
The first element the plaintiff must prove against the defendant is that the NP had a professional responsibility to care for the patient. This element is pretty basic and rarely contested by the defendant.
All the patient or the patient’s family must do is prove that the NP had a duty of care toward the patient. They can prove this if there’s any basic documentation or witnesses that prove the NP cared for the patient. The defendant can contest this if they claim that there was some miscommunication regarding who was responsible for the patient’s care, but such cases are rare.
Breach of Duty
After establishing the responsibility of care, the plaintiff must prove that the NP neglected or violated that responsibility. This is the most difficult element to prove, and the defense will usually contest it.
The breach of duty can come in many forms, like medication errors or absent patient monitoring, but another medical expert witness must corroborate this claim. It often requires medical expertise to decipher documentation and offer testimony about how the NP made an error.
Causality of Breach to Patient Injury
After the breach of duty, the plaintiff must also prove that the breach of duty directly caused the patient injury. Every malpractice case must include an injury to the victim; otherwise, there’s no basis for malpractice and no recourse that the courts can take.
Several things can cause the patient’s injury other than malpractice, including a worsening condition, a new injury/illness, or emotional distress. This element is often straightforward, and the plaintiff or defense can prove or disprove it with simple medical records or victim testimony.
Lastly, for the plaintiff to receive compensation for their injuries or injuries to their loved ones, they have to show the value of their case in damages. If there are no damages to the individual, the court cannot reward compensation.
Again, this element is often easy to prove if the plaintiff has already proved the breach of duty. Damages can include additional medical bills, lost wages, or out-of-pocket expenses related to the breach of duty. Often, the defense doesn’t contest the existence of damages but only the extent of them.
Examples of Medical Malpractice for Nurse Practitioners
While malpractice cases can come in all forms, there are many ways that NPs can receive a claim. Below, we’ve compiled a list of common malpractice suits brought against nurse practitioners.
One of the most common reasons an NP can receive a malpractice claim is errors in the documentation or a failure to document altogether. Documentation is a large aspect of an NP’s responsibilities, like documenting when they administered treatment or medication.
If there are errors in the documentation, like an NP forgetting to document how much medication they administered, that lead to harm, they could be liable for malpractice. Even something as simple as having illegible handwriting can lead to miscommunications and harm to the patient, so always write legibly!
Another significant reason someone may bring up a malpractice case against NPs is medication. NPs must prescribe and administer medication, and even the slightest errors in prescribing or administering drugs can cause significant harm to a patient.
If an NP administers the wrong medication or the incorrect amount, they could be professionally liable. The same is true if they prescribe a medication that the patient is allergic to. With the opioid crisis, there’s also been a rise in NPs receiving cases due to overprescribing opioids to patients and causing opioid dependence. NPs must always look for the signs of addiction in their patients when prescribing powerful opioids.
Failure To Provide Care
One of the most basic examples of an NP breaching duty of care is failing to provide proper care altogether. This area of malpractice is vague and can relate to many responsibilities of NPs, like failing to diagnose a patient or not providing adequate medical intervention in an emergency.
If an NP neglects simple responsibilities, like helping a patient out of their bed, helping them move around for exercise, and preventing bed sores, they can be professionally liable.
Another key part of the job as an NP is monitoring and observing patients. It’s often an NP’s responsibility to monitor the well-being of their patients and identify any signs of distress or harm, report those signs, and act immediately.
If a patient suffers a medical event, like a cardiac arrest, while under the supervision of an NP, and that NP doesn’t act quickly enough, causing greater harm or death to the patient, the patient could hold them responsible.
Treatment Error or Failure To Provide Standard of Care
NPs also have many responsibilities for treatment, which is another area of malpractice cases. NPs often perform hands-on treatment and perform medical procedures for patients. They could be liable if they make a mistake during these treatments that cause bodily harm or emotional distress.
Not every error is malpractice, but if the error results from an NP not following the standards of care, like failing to implement necessary safety protocols, they’d be vulnerable to a malpractice claim.
Malpractice suits are something that every NP must prepare for in case they make an error. Baxter & Associates helps NPs find insurance and even nurse practitioner student liability insurance for those working while still studying. If you’re a nurse practitioner who needs insurance, contact our helpful staff at Baxter & Associates and ask about malpractice insurance today.
A common reason for a malpractice lawsuit against a medical practice is unethical conduct from the clinic or a staff member. Below, we explain some of the most significant ethical breaches that can occur in medical practice.
Confidentiality is a significant concern for patients, so any breach of that confidentiality by a doctor or clinic is a serious form of unethical conduct. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) strictly prohibits the disclosure of sensitive health information without the patient’s consent.
Disclosing sensitive health information can sometimes occur accidentally, but it’s still a significant ethics violation that could expose the doctor and clinic legally.
Discriminatory behavior is obviously a major unethical conduct in medical practice—whether it’s discrimination of a patient’s gender, race, sexual orientation, or other protected category. Discrimination in health care can come in many forms, from doctors selectively choosing the patients they want to treat to being dismissive about specific gender issues.
Discriminatory conduct can also come in the form of verbal abuse if a doctor or clinic staff is inappropriate or abusive to a patient based on race, gender, or other criteria. This conduct is why diversity training and seminars can be valuable resources for clinics to avoid malpractice and discrimination lawsuits.
Covering Up a Mistake
Sometimes in medical practice, it’s not the mistake but the actions of the doctor and clinic afterward that are unethical. We’re all human, and we make mistakes. Still, if a doctor/clinic is deceitful about that mistake and withholds information from the patient regarding their medical condition, that’s a severe ethical and legal breach.
Patients have a legal and ethical right to information about their medical conditions—mistakes and all. If a patient later learns that a previous doctor/clinic made a mistake in their treatment and covered it up, they would have a strong case for malpractice and violation of informed consent.
Deceptive Billing Practices
An, unfortunately, all too common ethical breach in the health-care industry has little to do with doctors and patients and revolves around billing practices. The insurance billing system is complex and difficult for many to understand, which makes it a rife opportunity for shady medical billing professionals and clinics to dupe patients and insurance providers.
There are many examples and types of shady billing practices in health care, including:
Phantom charges (billed for services never rendered)
Unbundling (separation of charges that the insurance company should bill together)
Incorrect quantities (inflating total items/medications received by the patient)
Any of these billing practices are an ethical breach for a clinic and could lead to legal action from the patient and the insurance provider.
There are clearly many opportunities for a clinic to face legal action due to unethical conduct, which is why group malpractice insurance is essential for any medical clinic. If you have questions about unethical conduct or malpractice insurance, contact our expert team at Baxter & Associates.
Insurance agents help professionals and ordinary people get the insurance coverage they need. You might wonder if professional insurance agents need malpractice coverage themselves. They do, and we’ll explain policies every insurance agent needs, like errors and omissions coverage.
Yes, Insurance Agents Need Liability Coverage
Every professional insurance agent should have liability policies to protect themselves and their business. Professional liability insurance is especially important. An insurance agent who runs their own business will need basic business coverage, like a business owner’s policy, worker’s compensation, and cyber liability insurance.
Insurance agents offer advice and counsel to clients, but that counsel doesn’t always work out. When this happens, the client may seek retribution against the agent. Every insurance agent needs malpractice coverage for protection in these cases, primarily errors and omissions (E&O) insurance.
Errors & Omissions Insurance
E&O insurance is a specialized policy to protect the insured against the legal cost of errors not traditionally covered by standard liability insurance. Insurance agents are people, too, and can make mistakes in the counsel or recommendations of their clients. Errors that E&O covers include the following:
• Giving the wrong advice accidentally
• Missing a deadline
• Failing to recommend coverage
• Not explaining policy provisions
• Errors made by the agent, team, or subcontractor
• Inadequate work
If a client feels that any of these errors by their insurance agent cost them a substantial sum or payout from the insurance provider, they may file a malpractice claim to force the agent to make up the difference.
What Errors & Omissions Insurance Covers
If the claim falls under one of the protected acts in E&O insurance, the policy will cover most of the costs of defending the agent in court. That includes attorney fees, court costs, and unfavorable judgments or settlements up to the policy’s limits.
Judgments and settlements regarding liability and malpractice can reach hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, depending on the situation. Without liability insurance, the agent could be left on the hook for that payment themselves.
Now you understand why insurance agents need malpractice coverage and some policies the average agent needs. Baxter & Associates is a trusted malpractice insurance agency that connects professionals with suitable providers and can offer a liability policy. Learn more on our website or contact our staff to get started on a policy today.
Illegible, poorly written, and incomplete medical documentation is an all-too-common problem in healthcare. Below, we discuss ways healthcare professionals and clinics can prevent poor medical documentation and ensure everyone is on the same page.
Avoid Copying & Pasting
One of the most common culprits for mistakes in medical documentation is the dreaded copy-and-paste function for the electronic health record (EHR). Anyone who has used a computer is familiar with its function and its convenience, especially when transferring large amounts of data from one document to another.
However, the copy-and-paste function is a breeding ground for mistakes, as you can easily repeat errors onto multiple documents, making it harder to track an illness’s progression. Repeated copy-and-pasting can also add more pages to documentation than needed, which makes them harder to read and understand.
Use Abbreviations & Symbols Sparingly
Another way to prevent poor medical documentation is to use as few abbreviations and symbols as possible. Medical documentation is often rife with shorthand, abbreviations, and symbols—which can be convenient. However, it can also lead to confusion and assumptions.
While most medical professionals within the same department may see and understand what these abbreviations mean, it’s easy for others to get confused and assume it means something else, which can cause many issues.
Write as Clearly as Possible
It’s the simplest and most obvious advice, but it’s still worth mentioning: always be as clear as possible in your medical documentation. Clear writing applies to the legibility of one’s handwriting and the documentation’s content.
Clarity and precision are critical aspects of medical documentation, but many overlook them for more time-saving writing methods. After filling out your documentation, ask yourself if the paperwork is clear, concise, complete, and legible.
Document Future Plans
One aspect of medical documentation many healthcare professionals overlook is who may be reading their notes and documentation in the future. If a facility must transfer their patient to another facility, the professionals the patient comes in contact with, such as specialists and social workers, may need to consult the documentation to appropriately coordinate their care.
It’s helpful for all involved if healthcare professionals include the patient’s care plans in their documentation. For example, note the date of a follow-up appointment and provide a rough timeline for when treatment can resume. These simple additions can reduce confusion and misunderstanding for those reading the documentation in the future.
Poor medical documentation is a frequent cause of medical malpractice claims against all kinds of healthcare professionals, from physicians to chiropractors and more. Therefore, malpractice insurance is critical for every healthcare professional.
If you’re a chiropractor looking for a chiropractic malpractice insurance quote, Baxter & Associates can help. Contact our staff today so we can help you find a malpractice policy that suits your needs and budget.