|February 2007 · Vol. 19, No. 02
FOCUS ON PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY
Lessons learned from failing to follow up
Good intentions don’t compensate for faulty systems of tracking patients’ needs
In a team setting, communication systems must be consistent, reliable, accurate, and accessible to any member
Establish a plan to ensure continuity of care even when key team members are unavailable
Physicians who interact in a positive manner with their patients are less likely to be sued than those who fail to communicate warmth and concern
20% of OB patients who file suit do so primarily to obtain information, and 24% because they feel a cover-up has occurred
Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tenn
Physicians are multitaskers. Every day, we balance the demands of patient care, the burden of regulatory mandates, and the needs of our families—and try to get adequate rest and recreation in the process!
As pressures upon us increase, we have begun to build teams and systems that ensure the kind of care our patients demand. We may not be able to deliver personal continuity to every patient, but a team can approximate that continuity—after it meets several key challenges. Foremost: developing systems of communication that are consistent, reliable, accurate, and accessible to any member of the team.