Physicians today face a host of issues. Some related to lifestyle: Where should one practice and under what conditions? Others relate to the complicated regulatory world within which a physician must carve out his or her professional existence. Still others relate to the management of risk. While the practice of medicine will always entail some inherent risk, management experts suggest a number of practical tips to keep medical risks within an acceptable framework. Here are four practical tips of risk management in the medical setting.
Tip Number 1: Take a Close Look at Your Practice Habits: Are You Doing Too Many Things?
Self-assessment is always valuable and, in terms of reducing or eliminating risk within the medical setting, it is particularly important. Within any physician’s practice there are likely activities that produce little, if any, revenue and yet entail significant risk. These can actually be eliminated from the practice without a significant cost in revenue.
Tip Number 2: Give Special Thought to Existing and Potential Safety Measures
The key here is to recognize that the frequency and severity of many medical accidents and some potential malpractice issues can be controlled. Does the arrangement of your office facilitate good medicine? Are examining areas free of clutter? Do lab technicians have sufficient space within which to work? Are computer screens arranged such that others can see confidential information? This tip is difficult for many physicians to manage. Rental space is expensive. Extra equipment can seem wasted during slack times of the day. Bear in mind that an injury or accident that springs from poorly planned facilities and work procedures can be as costly as a more complex malpractice claim.
Tip Number 3: Work With Advisers to Determine What Levels of Risk You Can Absorb
Just as a car owner can save premium dollars by agreeing to insure some of the loss (larger deductibles generally mean lower premiums), physicians and medical practitioners should consider the same sort of strategy in their practices. This is generally referred to as retention of some risk. Be careful here, however. You don’t want to retain more than you can afford. For example, if you agreed to absorb the first $100,000 of a claim, do you have that amount earmarked and available if you need it? Moreover, don’t retain a significant amount of risk just to save a little bit in terms of premium charges. Consultation with your financial advisers and an attorney can be invaluable in assessing your risk-reward ratios.
Tip Number 4: Secure the Appropriate Level of Insurance For Your Needs
After you have assessed the level of risk that you can afford to internalize, get insurance for the rest. Having an appropriate insurance framework will not only help you sleep at night, but it will ease your mind during the practice hours. Don’t fall into an all-too-common trap, however. Don’t let the fact that you’ve secured good malpractice insurance allow you to become complacent. Occasionally, a physician will subconsciously let safety slide, thinking, “well that’s what my insurance is for.”
Risk Management: It’s Not a Fight Physicians Should Face Alone
By the time when a physician starts his or her practice, the physician recognizes that he or she can’t be all things to all people. The physician ordinarily possesses a significant set of skills, a complex memory set, abilities to be present with and for patients in a way that maximizes their health. The physician should recognize that in some matters, however, the perspective of a skilled outsider is vital. Management of risk is such an area. The Milwaukee business litigation firm of Kerkman Wagner & Dunn has more than 50 years of combined legal experience representing businesses and professionals Wisconsin. Our firm recognizes that risk management and professional liability claims require aggressiveness and sensitivity. Kerkman Wagner & Dunn has big firm talent and provides small firm attention. Call us at 414-278-7000 or complete our online contact form.