As the first medical professional liability insurer to establish a patient safety department, The Doctors Company remains the leader in developing innovative tools that can help you reduce risk and keep your patients safe.
A well-planned and carefully executed patient selection process is a valuable tool for loss control. Assessing prospective patients who request elective procedures will help identify those who are good surgical candidates and those who may not be able to achieve a satisfactory result. During the first visit, take time to document answers to the questions listed below. This may help avoid the stress and disruption of a lawsuit.
It is beneficial to assess the patient’s body language and behavior. There are warning signs that may warrant additional assessment by the doctor or mid-level practitioner. Below are examples of warning signs:
Remember, the patient selection process does not replace the informed consent process and should not defer any of those questions.
Many factors affect a surgical outcome. It is our opinion that office staff can contribute valuable information in the selection process. Listen when the staff voice “gut reactions” regarding a patient or family member. Allow the staff to contribute to discussions of denial of care.
We are aware that many claims occur with patients who are not appropriate candidates for a procedure. These tips can help decrease the frequency and severity of claims.
By Susan Shepard, MSN. RN, Director, Patient Safety Education.
The guidelines suggested here are not rules, do not constitute legal advice, and do not ensure a successful outcome. The ultimate decision regarding the appropriateness of any treatment must be made by each healthcare provider in light of all circumstances prevailing in the individual situation and in accordance with the laws of the jurisdiction in which the care is rendered.