There has been a great deal of focus on medical malpractice lately. Stories of people suing for millions echo in the back of the minds of medical professionals and serve as a reminder to be more aware of how to treat their patients. Even the most careful medical professional should understand that anything can happen at any time. However, there is one thing that they can do to minimize the risks and the chances of being sued by a patient: Communicate and be honest.
It’s been said that the lack of communication is at the core of most malpractice lawsuits. Angry people are the ones who sue because their health care provider was not open and honest with them.
What does it mean to communicate with patients?
There are many things that are part of having good communication with a patient. Having a sincere attitude of caring is one of them. When you honestly care about helping people, you take the time to check on them to see how they’re doing and you listen to their needs and concerns. Patients are not seen as just a name on a chart; they are REAL people who put their trust in you to take care of them.
Being sincere towards patients is not something that can be taught. This is a trait that is intrinsic — it comes from the heart. However, what you can do is take the time to listen to what patients are saying to you. (By the way, if you don’t sincerely care for your patients, then maybe it’s time to find a different career!)
Honesty is the Best Policy
People can sense when you are honest and you have put in a sincere effort to care for their health. They are less likely to sue if there has been a mistake because they understand that you deeply care and did the best that you could. Generally speaking, people do understand that there are no guarantees in life. Every surgery or medical process is not perfect. However, if you’re upfront, honest, and don’t try to cover up your mistake, that counts for something.
Many health care professionals underestimate the power of communication with patients. All that people want is to know that they are being heard and their concerns are being addressed. If a patient has questions, answer them honestly and thoroughly. People don’t expect you to be perfect, they just want to know that you care.