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Lowering your Risk of Malpractice

Medical malpractice is something that all physicians and PAs want to avoid at all costs.  We know that in spite of our best efforts, sometimes mistakes happen.  While dermatology historically has some of the lowest records of malpractice challenges among many other physicians and specialists, awards in dermatology cases can still be significant.  This is especially true of melanoma cases.

A report by the Physician Insurers Association of America found that dermatology cases accounted for only 1 percent of closed malpractice claims and 1 percent of total indemnity for all medical specialties in 2010.  Likewise, from 1991 till 2005 only about 5 percent of dermatologists faced a malpractice claim in any given year.  This number contrasts greatly from the nearly 20 percent of neurosurgeons and thoracic-cardiovascular surgeons that face claims each year.

Even with these hopeful statistics for dermatologists, there are still some things you can do to help prevent malpractice suits.

Nothing works better than good ol’ “bedside manner”  
Experts say that communicating with the patient is essential, before, during (if possible), and after any procedure or treatment.  Communication is even more significant when a medical mistake occurs.  Often a simple explanation is all that is needed to prevent a small problem from becoming a big issue.

If your patients feel like they are being listened to, and their questions are being answered in a way they can understand, you will go a long way towards preventing legal and financial problems.  Talk to your patients, explain things clearly, and show them that you care.  You’ll find that this is time well spent.

[image by steakpinball]

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