Risk management is subject that is constantly on the mind of today’s practicing physicians’ and hospitals. There are many forms of risk management for physicians to utilize that can help reduce the risk of a medical malpractice claim and promote a healthy doctor/patient relationship. One of the newest forms of risk management is what is called, patient satisfaction surveys.
With the cost of litigation in today’s society becoming extremely expensive, it is important for medical professionals to implement these risk management tools into their everyday practice. Although medical liability insurance is readily available for physicians and hospitals, the immediate and future costs of a medical malpractice claim can be quite significant. The majority of physicians who have received a malpractice claim will almost definitely experience a premium increase at their next renewal. Physicians should keep in mind that physician malpractice insurance policies have deductibles as well.
Keeping Healthy Doctor/Patient Relationships to Reduce the Risk of a Medical Malpractice Claim
Over the past several decades, the cost of practicing medicine has skyrocketed. The high costs of doing business as a doctor has forced doctors to see a much larger number of patients in order to make the same amount of revenue. This has resulted in a lower standard for the doctor/patient relationship. This lack of relationship has had the consequence in more claims for medical liability insurance carriers.
Specialties who have little to no relationship with their patients have suffered worse than other specialties. For example, emergency room physicians have suffered a higher number of medical malpractice claims because they have no relationship with the patient. Often the patient never even talks to the emergency room physician.
Anesthesiologists have also had periods of very high physician malpractice insurance premiums due to a high amount of claims. While anesthesia comes with risk, there is often no relationship at all with the patient. As the cost of doing business rises and a suffering economy continues, the pressure is put on the medical office to see more and more patients in order to cover expenses. This drives down the doctor/patient relationship and causes the threat of litigation to be much more prevalent.
Patient Satisfaction Surveys as a Method to Curb Medical Malpractice Insurance Claims
Patient satisfaction surveys have proved to be a good method of risk management. The original idea was to try to put a simple program in place to help create a better doctor/patient relationship. Medical liability insurance companies quickly realized that this could also be a great way to reduce claims. Risk management departments have long been relied on to prevent incidents from becoming medical malpractice claims.
A negative outcome on a patient satisfaction survey gives the physician or surgeon the chance to rectify the problem and satisfy the patient before the patient ever goes to a plaintiff lawyer to file a malpractice claim. Patient satisfaction surveys have shown patients that their doctor does care about the medical care they are receiving and as well as making sure they are satisfied with the care given; even if the results aren’t always what the patient had hoped to hear. Most medical offices give the patient satisfaction survey at the end of the visit while the patient is still in the exam room. Some medical offices have elected to have the survey at the front desk so the patient may complete it on the way out.
Taking Patient Satisfaction Surveys to the Electronic Level
Recently a medical liability insurance company has taken such surveys to the next level. These patient satisfaction surveys are now available to a physicians patient by computer, and more specifically via Apple’s iPad. Apple iPads have been quite the craze and many patients enjoy the experience of using it. Physician malpractice insurance companies like it because it provides them with immediate digital data. Risk management departments are most interested in malpractice claim prevention, meaning, they put protocols in place to try to prevent claims from happening.
With patient satisfactions in digital form, and connection to the internet, physician malpractice insurance companies know immediately if there is a patient that is dissatisfied with their visit. This gives the doctor, and the risk management department, the chance to resolve the conflict immediately; while also helping the patient feel that the doctor or surgeon truly cares about the patient’s experience.
Resolving Patient Conflicts Starts with Communication to the Physicians Malpractice Insurance Company
As for the insurance company, this allows the risk management department a chance to resolve the conflict before the patient speaks with a plaintiff attorney to file a malpractice law suit. When a physician receives a survey, from a patient whom is unhappy with their visit or treatment, it is important that the physician talks to their medical liability insurance company before communication with the disgruntled patient. Risk management departments are skilled in resolving these conflicts in a manner that will help avoid a malpractice law suit and avoid actions that could be damaging; should the physician and medical liability insurance company have to go to court to defend a malpractice claim.
If you are interested in medical malpractice insurance that includes patient satisfaction surveys into their risk management program, please visit (and request consultation from) eQuoteMD or speak with your medical professional liability consultant.