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Patient Safety
and Risk Resources

Communication Resources

  • SEP 22, 2016
    Electronic Health Record Malpractice Risks
    David B. Troxel, MD
    It is important for physicians to become familiar with liability risks associated with electronic health records.
  • SEP 20, 2016
    Money Talks: Discussing Cost with Patients Before Treatment Is a Win-Win
    The physician needs to be involved in making sure that the patient is informed and educated about the financial burden of surgical and medical treatments. Doing this before proceeding with treatment can help lower the risk of a malpractice claim even when the medical outcome doesn’t meet the patient’s expectations.
  • AUG 11, 2016
    Missed Opportunities
    Susan Shepard, MSN, RN
    Miscommunication and missed opportunities resulting from hurried handoffs can produce fatal results.
  • AUG 03, 2016
    To Text or Not to Text
    Julie Song, MPH, and Susan Shepard, MSN, RN
    Without appropriate safeguards, texting can lead to violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
  • JUL 26, 2016
    CANDOR Toolkit: Physicians Now Have the Right Tools to Do the Right Thing After an Adverse Event
    The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) developed the Communication and Optimal Resolution (CANDOR) Toolkit to help hospitals and doctors communicate openly and effectively with patients after adverse events.
  • JUN 13, 2016
    Telephone Communication for Physicians
    Mark Gorney, MD, FACS, Laura A. Dixon, JD, RN, and Susan Shepard, MSN, RN
    When carelessly conducted, telephone communications can lead to diagnostic errors and misunderstandings that culminate in medical malpractice claims and lawsuits.
  • MAY 06, 2016
    Shared Responsibility for Preventing Malpractice Suits–Patient Interactions
    Susan Shepard, MSN, RN, Senior Director, Patient Safety and Risk Management Education, and Carol Murray, RHIA, CPHRM, Patient Safety Risk Manager II.
    The basic emotions leading to any medical liability action are surprise, disappointment, and anger.
  • MAY 01, 2016
    Effective Obstetrical Team Communication
    Cynthia Morrison, RN, CPHRM
    Effective communication requires a team effort for the exchange of concise and relevant information.
  • OCT 26, 2015
    Reducing the Risk of Retained Foreign Objects During Surgery
    Medical RFI (radio frequency identification) chip technology is now available to track sponges and surgical towels used during a procedure.
  • JUN 01, 2015
    Health Literacy
    The Doctors Company supports the American Medical Association’s (AMA’s) policy recognizing that limited patient literacy affects medical diagnosis and treatment. We encourage the development of programs that train physicians to effectively communicate with patients who have limited literacy skills.
  • APR 13, 2015
    Damage Control: Dealing with Online Patient Complaints
    Susan Shepard, MSN, RN, and David O. Hester, FASHRM, CPHRM
    There is no easy remedy to completely eradicate negative comments once they are on the Internet.
  • FEB 19, 2015
    What Patients Should Know About Pain Management
    When prescribing narcotic drugs for pain management, doctors should ensure that patients are fully informed of the medicine's risks and benefits, as well as alternatives to drug treatment.
  • FEB 01, 2015
    Patient Selection for Elective Procedures
    Susan Shepard, MSN, RN
    The patient selection process is a valuable tool for loss control, because many claims occur with patients who are not appropriate candidates for a procedure.
  • JAN 21, 2015
    Working with Patients Who Do Not Follow the Treatment Plan
    Patients who do not follow the treatment plan may become high liability risks because their behavior often exacerbates existing health problems, which can lead to negative outcomes.
  • DEC 12, 2014
    Curbside Consultations
    Susan Shepard, MSN, RN
    Physicians should be aware of the potential liability of informal "curbside" consultations, especially if expectations between the physicians are not clearly communicated.
  • DEC 12, 2014
    Shared Responsibility for Preventing Malpractice Suits: Special Circumstances
    By David O. Hester, FASHRM, CPHRM, Patient Safety Risk Manager.
    Develop procedures for your staff to help reduce communication errors with hospitals, labs, and other physicians, as well as communications within the office.
  • DEC 02, 2014
    Informed Refusal
    Documenting a patient’s refusal of test or treatment options is key to minimizing risk exposure.
  • NOV 01, 2014
    Bad Outcomes: From Surprise and Disappointment to Anger and a Lawsuit
    Mark Gorney, MD, FACS, and Richard Cahill, JD
    Anger is by far the most common factor that moves a patient to file a malpractice claim.
  • SEP 01, 2014
    The Internet: Friend or Foe to Physicians
    Robin Diamond, JD, RN
    Physicians must use care in dealing with Internet review sites used by consumers.
  • MAR 25, 2014
    Encourage Patients to "Speak Up"
    The Joint Commission's"Speak Up" campaign urges patients to take an active role in preventing errors by becoming more involved in and informed about their healthcare.
  • DEC 20, 2013
    Telephone Triage and Medical Advice
    Susan Shepard, MSN, RN
    Telephone communication, a critical part of the patient's overall care and management, presents a significant area of liability exposure.
  • NOV 01, 2013
    Frequently Asked Questions: Treating Patients in a Difficult Economy
    Susan Shepard, MSN, RN, and Richard Cahill, Esq.
    Our experts answer questions about billing issues, including when patients are unable or unwilling to pay doctor charges.
  • OCT 21, 2013
    Frequently Asked Questions: Americans with Disabilities Act
    Susan Shepard, MSN, RN
    Our experts answer questions about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which is designed to eliminate discrimination against persons with disabilities and provide enforceable standards to address such discrimination.
  • JUN 26, 2013
    No-Show New Patients May Leave Physicians at Risk
    Physicians face certain risks and responsibilities when collecting patient information prior to the patient arriving for his or her appointment.
  • MAY 08, 2013
    Meeting the Challenges of the Nonadherent Orthopedic Surgical Patient
    Cynthia Morrison, RN, CPHRM
    Orthopedic surgeons can reduce potential liability by following these tips for managing nonadherent patient behavior.
  • SEP 14, 2012
    Challenging Communications
    Laura A. Dixon, JD, RN
    Communication breakdowns are a frequent risk management finding in claims, as highlighted in this case study.
  • FEB 08, 2012
    Imperative Conversations: Managing Transitions of Care in the Hospital
    Susan Shepard, MSN, RN
    Standardizing the handoff process has been shown to lower rates of perceived near-miss events and adverse outcomes.
  • OCT 01, 2011
    Signing Off and Signing Out: Lost in Translation
    Ann S. Lofsky, MD, and Susan Shepard, MSN, RN
    Whether signing out to a colleague for the weekend or permanently closing a practice, handing off responsibility for patient care can create liability risks for the physician.
  • SEP 01, 2011
    Patient-Centered Communications: Building Patient Rapport
    Wendy G. Anderson, MD, MS
    Communication skills can help hospitalists overcome barriers to care by ensuring a clear exchange of information that engenders patient trust.
  • JUL 01, 2011
    Addressing Patient Issues and Other Challenging Situations
    Pamela Willis, BSN, JD
    Proactively address issues with patients through clear communication.
  • JUL 01, 2011
    Eight Little Words
    Ann S. Lofsky, MD
    No wording will be more carefully scrutinized than that in a medical record involved in a malpractice trial.
  • MAR 01, 2011
    Rx for Patient Safety: Ask Me 3
    Lois E. Kemp, MA, RN
    The Ask Me 3 program is a time-efficient, effective tool that encourages patients to participate in their healthcare by asking questions.
  • DEC 20, 2010
    Fire Safety in the Surgical Suite
    Susan K. Palmer, MD, and Ernest E. Allen
    Besides conducting annual fire drills that include what to do if a fire occurs on a patient, it is also wise to review fire risks in high-risk procedures prior to the start of the surgical procedure.
  • JUN 22, 2010
    Focusing on Missed or Delayed Diagnosis
    Robin Diamond, JD, RN, and Susan Shepard, MSN, RN
    This companion article to "An Analysis of Internal Medicine Malpractice Claims" focuses on the types of claims seen in the allegation of missed or delayed diagnosis.
  • SEP 01, 1999
    Obtaining Informed Consent in a Teaching Situation
    Mark Gorney, MD, FACS
    It is important to inform patients when a resident physician will perform all or part of a procedure.

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