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Tips To Reduce A Physician’s Risk Of Being Sued

A few pearls from a session on legal risks and mitigation strategies from an HM ‘11 session by Harvard’s Allen Kachalia, MD, JD:

–A relatively small number of injured patients actually file claims and get compensation.
–Many filed claims do no have actual errors in them, but the majority do.
–Poor outcomes are correlated with claims, and so is patient satisfaction. Satisfied patients are less likely to file.
–There is no evidence that hospitalists’ risk of having claims filed against them is higher than primary care internists.

To protect yourself against claims, document well. Don’t go back and change a record (you can addend, but don’t alter). Document as contemporaneously as possible. Also, “as simple as it sounds, don’t abandon your patient, and don’t stop providing necessary care,” he said. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Hospitalist*

Doctors Refuse To Treat Obese Patients in Florida

In a nation with 93 million obese people, a few ob-gyn doctors in South Florida now refuse to see otherwise healthy women solely because they are overweight. Fifteen obstetrics-gynecology practices out of 105 polled by the Sun Sentinel said they have set weight cut-offs for new patients starting at 200 pounds or based on measures of obesity — and turn down women who are heavier. Some of the doctors said the main reason was their exam tables or other equipment can’t handle people over a certain weight. But at least six said they were trying to avoid obese patients because they have a higher risk of complications.

While I have not specifically “refused to treat” obese patients, I have in a few cases recommended against surgery or recommended weight loss and re-evaluation later. Than again I am not in primary care and do understand what these OB/GYNs are saying. Obese patients do represent more risk when it comes to surgery and that would of course cover pregnancy and child bearing.

Take into account that Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Truth in Cosmetic Surgery*

WebMD Worries That Possible Misinformation On Their Website Will Result In Legal Action

More and more patients these days are seeing their physician pull out an iPhone or iPad to look up drug dosing information, review lab and radiology data, or help teach them more about their medical condition. And as developers, and the increasing number of physician-developers, continue to find more creative ways to bring medical resources to the point of care, we can certainly expect smartphone platforms and medical apps to become pervasive at the bedside. However, just as healthcare providers and patients are noticing this trend, there are number of others who are paying attention as well – for WebMD, one of the largest companies in this industry, it is the lawyers who may be watching that are worrisome.

As they put it in their annual statement to the SEC,

If our content, or content we obtain from third parties, contains inaccuracies, it is possible that consumers, employees, health plan members or others may sue us for various causes of action.

We’ve talked in the past about potential liability issues for healthcare providers using medical apps and the developers who produce them, as well as similar issues related to electronic health records. The fact that WebMD found the issue significant enough to report it to the SEC and their investors clearly indicates the issue is still unresolved and the remainder of their statement adds some further interesting perspective. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at iMedicalApps*

The Two Reasons Why Physicians Don’t Engage In Social Media

I recently wrote a paper on social media with some of my colleagues at Kaiser Permanente: Ted Eytan, MD @tedeytan, Rahul Parikh, MD @docrkp, Vince Golla @vincegolla, and Sara Stein, MD @sarasteinmd. In the article, “Social Media and the Health System,” we argue that the benefits of engaging patients and colleagues in social media outweigh potential risks.

The two most common reasons that physicians resist participating on blogs, Twitter and Facebook are: 1. Fear of liability. 2. Lack of compensation for the time invested.

If we would like more physicians to be part of the conversation, then we’ll need to find ways to overcome these barriers.

What has your experience been like interacting with physicians on social media? Is there a place for physicians on sites such as Twitter and Facebook?

For physicians reading this post, you can also join the over 160 others who have commented on this article on Sermo.

*This blog post was originally published at The Dermatology Blog*

Do EMRs Increase The Risk Of Being Sued?

Doctors are pushed to adopt electronic medical records harder than ever before.

However, costs are often the prohibitive obstacle, and whether the current generation of EMRs improve patient care remains in question.

But what about liability? Surely, more complete, legible medical records would reduce the risk of being sued. Right?

Well, it’s not that cut and dry. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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