Caregivers are often emotionally vulnerable after an unanticipated or adverse outcome. They may experience fear, guilt, frustration, defensiveness, and general distress. This can cause them to do things that are inconsistent with their standard protocols. It’s important to remember that negative outcomes happen in patient care and it’s rarely because of any intention on the part of the healthcare provider.
In the event of an adverse outcome, keep this advice top of mind to avoid further harm to you, your patient, or your organization:
- Avoid doing anything that is not in line with your standard protocols, such as completing extra written statements or summaries of the patient’s care, handling the medical record differently, or rewriting anything. Discuss all of these with your risk manager first. In other words, do not alter, add, or delete anything in the clinical record or business files.
- Create a separate incident file for quality assurance, litigation, or claim correspondence.
- When processing a medical record request, send copies only. Make sure that the copy you send is clear and legible. You should never release original documents from the patient chart.
- If you are contacted by the media, outside attorneys, physicians, or other providers, contact your Risk Management Helpline or insurance company designee before responding.
Once an event becomes a claim or a lawsuit, it’s predominantly the responsibility of your insurance company’s risk manager, claims specialist, or the appointed attorney to manage and lead the process. Lean on them and feel free to ask as many questions as you need to along the way.
Finally, if you are asked to provide testimony, be sure to think through each of the critical issues. We also recommend practicing verbalizing your position on each of those critical issues. Be prepared to handle criticism and respond to argumentative questions. By preparing for these high-pressure scenarios, you are better equipped to present yourself calmly and professionally.
While no healthcare provider expects that they will find themselves in this situation, staying informed and calm is the best way to protect all parties involved. Have questions or need help making a plan? OmniSure experts are available for On-Demand advice. Contact us to learn how you can gain access to on-demand support and a library of helpful resources.