From time to time we here at eQuoteMD like to take a minute to address concerns that are of special interest to physician’s with a particular specialty. Today we want to address endocrinologists and other healthcare professionals that work with patients that have Type 1 Diabetes. According to a recent study of claims, performed by The Doctor’s Company, the four most common malpractice allegations made by Type 1 diabetic patients are:
- Improper management of treatment – 37% of claims
- Failure or delay of diagnoses – 31% of claims
- Failure to treat – 9% of claims
- Improper management and medication regiments – 6% of claims
Let’s talk about improper management of treatment. I’m sure this is not new information to anyone in the Endocrinology field, but it might be helpful to review this topic.
As you know, it is very important for Type 1 patients to learn how to manage their blood sugar properly, which entails keeping blood glucose levels and their HbA1c’s within “normal” range. An HbA1c is of course, a form of hemoglobin that is tested to show an average of approximately 3 months of blood sugar results. The HbA1c indicates the level of control that a patient has over their blood sugar. A level of 6% or below is the preferred HbA1c level. If a Type 1 patient does not have tight control over their blood sugar, they may develop long term complications. High blood sugar, over a long period of time, can damage the large and small blood vessels. Complications with small blood vessels include eyesight, kidney damage, and nerve damage. Complications with large blood vessels can lead to heart disease. But, by carefully controlling blood sugar, Type 1 diabetics can prevent these complications. That is why, as a reminder to physicians who treat Type 1 diabetics, it is very important for the physician to provide an excellent plan for the patient which could also include a diabetes educator and/or a support team.
To that end, here are some helpful reminders to keep Type 1 diabetics on track:
- Educate the patient so they can take care of themselves properly and avoid long term complications. Ask questions and do follow up to make sure the patient truly understands what they need to do to take care of themselves.
Produce individualized care plans for your patients and provide team support if necessary. Don’t assume that a single plan of action, or even a standard level of support will be sufficient for every patient. People are different and need differing levels of support and follow up.
- Document all patient interactions. Both for the sake of good healthcare outcomes and to protect yourself from legal and financial trouble it is vital in today’s highly regulated, litigious environment that you document everything and remain compliant with all regulatory standards.
- Have your patients make timely follow up appointments. We know this can be a challenge, but it is worth the effort, whether it means incentivizing staff members, automating appointment setups and reminders, or whatever other methods work for you, there is simply no better way to ensure good health and prevent adverse outcomes than regular visits and evaluations.
- As we mentioned, the main allegation against Endocrinologists is improper management or treatment of the patient, which is why it is such a good idea to partner up with a reliable medical malpractice insurance company. Educating patients about the importance of self-management will help increase their compliance and thus reduce the chance of you being blamed for preventable adverse outcomes.
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