In an ideal world, risk mitigation wouldn’t have to be a topic of discussion for doctors of chiropractic. However, as a healthcare provider, you are open to inherent liability risks, such as allegations of malpractice and negligence.
Unfortunately, this sometimes comes with the territory of being a DC.
So, how can you avoid or at least reduce exposure to these risks. This article discusses tips for mitigating risks and liabilities inherently associated with providing chiropractic treatments to your patients.
Protect yourself and your practice with reliable liability insurance
To mitigate risks and liabilities, ensure your practice and your staff are protected with the best liability insurance you can find. Professional liability insurance, also called malpractice insurance, can safeguard you from the legal expenses associated with allegations of malpractice.
Meaning if a patient sues over an issue (alleged or actual) or makes a claim of negligence, you’ll have a reliable insurance partner to help cover legal expenses and other costs associated with the process of defending yourself and your practice.
Provide ongoing training for staff
Don’t stop at hiring the right team. Keep them properly equipped with ongoing training. In your training, educate your staff on how to conduct themselves professionally in a variety of different liability-related circumstances. This might entail teaching them professional conflict resolution skills such as how to address patient concerns and how to educate patients about upcoming procedures.
Ensure they’re receiving updated and detailed training on the latest techniques, manipulations and procedures. Then, take your training a step further and clarify how staff should effectively communicate with your patients about everything you offer in your practice.
The clearer and more specific you can be with staff to patient communication, the less room for misunderstandings or issues to arise.
Keep organized, detailed records
Accurate medical documentation plays a key role in avoiding malpractice cases. With detailed business records and patient records, you can better avoid allegations of malpractice or negligence and minimize risks and liabilities.
Organized record-keeping doesn’t just reduce procedural mistakes; it also provides a reliable record of every patient’s treatment from their intake and beyond. In some cases – especially those where pre-existing conditions were part of the problem – it can provide helpful information that can clear you of responsibility, such as proof of omission.
Finally, ensure you keep more than one copy of every record for adequate security.
Conduct informed consent conversations along with documented consent
The best route you can take for patient consent is to cover both bases; verbal and written. To actively minimize risks and liabilities, make it a non-negotiable practice standard to have an informed consent discussion with your patients before any procedures and document that discussion in their patient records.
Consider discussing factors such as:
- The risks of the manipulation or the procedure
- Benefits of the treatment
- Alternatives to the treatment you’re suggesting
- Questions or concerns the patient may have about the procedure
- Avoid over-promising in marketing or conversation
In both direct conversations with your patients as well as in your marketing messaging, avoid over-promising unrealistic or unlikely outcomes. For example, using marketing phrases suggesting you can provide a “pain-free lower back” to patients within “four sessions or less” might be anecdotally true for most. However, it presents an issue by acting as false advertising, opening you and your practice up to an increased risk of malpractice or liability.
Additionally, make sure you conduct honest and direct conversations with every patient about how treatment works differently for every person and every situation.
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