Knowledge Library

Safety Nets for Safer Care

A 33-year-old woman went to the Emergency Department (ED) for abdominal pain and intermittent rectal bleeding. The attending physician ordered a colonoscopy, but it was never completed. The patient was diagnosed with colon cancer two years after her initial ED visit, and she passed away within a year. No one will ever know if having that initial follow-up would have changed her outcome, but an earlier diagnosis might have offered a better chance for survival. Preventing patients from falling through the cracks in the system is a constant challenge, and some health care organizations have turned to ambulatory safety nets...

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Lawsuits are Not Always Over When the Verdict Comes In

Clinician stress is well-documented. Even before the pandemic brought the double whammy of reduced staffing levels and increased patient care burdens, the ever-growing demands from electronic medical records, patient satisfaction surveys, and health insurance pre-authorizations contributed to burnout. However, one stress factor that isn’t usually considered is litigation. During a lawsuit, clinicians are likely to feel isolated, in large part because they are discouraged from discussing their case with their peers. When combined with remorse and self-doubt, as well as immersion in new and unfamiliar legal terrain, clinicians may experience sleepless nights and an inability to focus. Relationships can become...

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Before You Hit Send – Patient Safety Strategies

The first email was sent in 1971, the first text message in 1992, and people sharing their thoughts have not paused since. Those novelties are now commonplace to virtually everyone, including physicians and other healthcare providers communicating about patients—and sometimes about adverse events. Because they are ubiquitous and seemingly ethereal, it’s easy—especially for less-experienced physicians—to forget that emails and (some) texts are part of the medical record, including some messages that could one day be excerpted and projected during a medical malpractice trial. In the investigation of a medical professional liability (MPL) claim or lawsuit, emails or texts sent to...

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