The Doctor’s Advocate | Second Quarter 2018
Innovations in Patient Safety

Improving Documentation of Patient Communication

Our video series highlights how doctors nationwide are using the data-driven insights from our closed claims studies to improve patient safety in their practices or hospitals. Our vast database of claims gives us an unparalleled understanding of the most common patient allegations and factors contributing to injury, and our specialty-specific studies help shine a light on risks others don’t see.

This quarter, we feature Phillip Haeck, MD, a plastic surgeon at The Polyclinic in Seattle, Washington. The Doctors Company’s Plastic Surgery Closed Claims Study revealed that 10 percent of claims against plastic surgeons involved a communication problem—miscommunication or failure to communicate between the doctor and staff or between the patient and doctor. In particular, communication between patients and staff on social media was rarely captured in the electronic health record (EHR).

After reading the study’s findings, Dr. Haeck and his six partners and 35 staff members reviewed their communication processes. The practice now has clear guidelines to identify each communication, when it took place, and what resulted. All communications are now entered into the EHR and made available to the surgeon. Phone calls and social media exchanges between staff and patients are also made part of the EHR and brought to the surgeon’s attention.

Watch this compelling video for insights from Dr. Haeck—including one surprising fact about communications that might occur without the physician’s knowledge.

Learn More

Go to thedoctors.com/plasticsurgerystudy to read our Plastic Surgery Closed Claims Study.


The Doctor’s Advocate is published by The Doctors Company to advise and inform its members about loss prevention and insurance issues.

The guidelines suggested in this newsletter are not rules, do not constitute legal advice, and do not ensure a successful outcome. They attempt to define principles of practice for providing appropriate care. The principles are not inclusive of all proper methods of care nor exclusive of other methods reasonably directed at obtaining the same results.

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