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Risk Management 101 with Greg Henry

Greg Henry, MD and Mike Weinstock, MD
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25:04

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Greg gives a primer on medical legal terms and examples of lawsuits.

Pearls:

  • Understanding legal terminology will help you protect yourself

  • Know what your malpractice covers.  And what (AND WHERE) it doesn’t

 

BASIC DEFINITIONS: Remember that a lawyer and a doctor think of these terms differently.  We need to know the legal definition to protect ourselves.

  • Standard of Care: Those things which a doctor of like or similar training would do under like or similar circumstances.  There is not ONE standard of care, but rather there are multiple ways to approach the same problem.

  • Proximate Cause: Did the action or inaction cause the outcome?  

  • Burden of Proof: Varies by state and whether the case is criminal or legal.  In a criminal case, you have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.  In a civil action, the burden of proof is the preponderance of the evidence.  There is a lot more room for the plaintiff to put doubt in the jury’s mind about the science and actions of the physician and win a case in civil law than in criminal law.  

    • Gross Negligence: Many states (including Georgia and Texas) have moved to “gross negligence” for medical malpractice.  This means that you have to have done something really bad or stupid.  The number of suits in Texas against emergency physicians dropped to a quarter of what they previously were.  

 

MALPRACTICE INSURANCE:  

  • Understand what your policy covers.  Most policies are site-specific and action-specific.  If you are working at Urgent Care A and they cover your malpractice, that malpractice only covers you for your work at Urgent Care A.  It does not cover you if you are treating your neighbor, or volunteering for event medicine.  

  • Things to know:

    • What it covers

    • Where it covers

    • How long it covers

    • Type of insurance

  • Read the declaration page of your insurance policy.  This gives you all the answers.  

 

SELF PROTECTION:   

  • Document that your shared decision-making conversations and that the patient understands and agrees with the plan of care.  

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