No matter how good you are at what you do, malpractice lawsuits are a risk you take in the medical profession. All it takes is one mistake, one disgruntled patient or one miscommunication and you can end up in a legal mess that costs considerable time, stress and money.
Malpractice lawsuits can also damage your reputation and make you overly cautious and anxious about running your medical practice. But did you know that most medical malpractice lawsuits are filed due to mere miscommunications?
Most patients filing medical malpractice lawsuits claimed that poor communication was one of the primary reasons for the filing*. This is good news. It means that you can dramatically reduce miscommunications and thus reduce the possibility that you’ll end up with a malpractice suit on your hands, simply by applying three principles?
3 Simple Principles that Will Dramatically Improve Communication.
Clarity is what makes communication real and authentic. Without clarity, you’re simply sharing information, and there’s a good change the person who is “listening” won’t even remember what you said just 24 hours later.
Many times, this happens because they didn’t grasp the information in the first place. If you assume that they understood you and send them away, you might be surprised to find that they claim you “never said that,” and that’s how conflicts arise.
The only way to be 100% sure that someone understood you is verify with them. Ask them to repeat what you’ve said back to you in their words. Many times, you’ll realise that you weren’t as clear as you thought you were. While the patient might have nodded their head in agreement, that doesn’t always mean they understood you.
No one likes to be left in the dark, especially regarding matters of physical health and well-being. If you’re helping a patient solve a problem which requires multiple visits or status updates, schedule the follow up calls and emails and keep them in the loop. The odds of a patient complaining about you contacting them too much in order to keep them informed are slim to none.
Sometimes, it’s tempting to delay a call back or an email if you don’t yet have the answer you promised to get or the test results you’ve been waiting for. Send a communication anyway. Tell your patient that things are taking longer than expected and that you’ll be in touch the moment you know something. It’s much easier for them to wait patiently if they know that you haven’t forgotten about them.
It’s much more likely that they’ll feel left in the dark and get frustrated because a follow up call or email didn’t come on time (or at all). Sending email communications can also help you keep track of communications so that you’ll have something to show IF you do end up in a lawsuit situation.
This might sound too obvious to state, especially if you know that you really do care about your patients. However, there’s a big difference between having genuine compassion for your patients and having the skills to communicate that compassion when you speak to them. Most of us have had the experience of being misunderstood, having our motives misjudged or missed completely.
It’s important to never assume that someone knows how much you care. Find ways to show it by getting to know your patients on a personal level. Ask about their profession, their family background, their interests and hobbies. Make some small talk with them, then make a few notes in their file.
This way, you’ll have something to talk about when they come back, and you’ll be amazed at how much they appreciate you remembering a few things about them. When people feel appreciated for who they are, they’ll be more likely to listen, more likely to remember what you say and less likely to blame you if there’s a miscommunication.
How to Get More Patients for Your Medical Practice
If you’d like to dramatically improve your communications with patients while still maintaining your reputation, Vividus can help. We develop strategies which help medical professionals grow their practice online and offline with targeted and strategic communication’s campaigns. Give us a call and we’ll provide the marketing advice that best suits your needs.