Saturday, April 08, 2006

4 cases that test your malpractice IQ

4 cases that test your malpractice IQ: " No matter how competent a doctor you are, chances are better than even that you'll be sued for malpractice at least once. In this litigious climate, patients often sue for any poor outcome, even if it's a known complication. And if any money is paid to the plaintiff on your behalf, a record of it will go into the National Practitioner Data Bank.
The following case-based quiz is designed to increase your malpractice awareness by focusing on the basic legal principles that underlie some of the clinical decisions doctors commonly face. The answers might also guide you in making changes in your practice that would lessen your risk. A perfect score doesn't mean you'll never be sued; but at least you'll be better able to protect yourself.
Case 1:

After a workup, you diagnose a thyroid condition in a man who has a swelling in his neck. You recommend surgery, and he agrees. You refer him, and the surgery is done. Afterward, although the swelling is gone, he's left with a prominent scar. Later he transfers to another internist who tells him that medication might have alleviated the swelling just as well as surgery—but without the risk of a scar. On that basis, the patient sues both you and the surgeon. Are you liable?

A. No, because surgery is an acceptable treatment given the symptoms.

B. Yes, because you didn't explain any alternatives to surgery.

The correct answer is B. As the patient's primary care physician, it's your legal responsibility to spell out his options, thereby giving him the chance to choose his own treatment. Because you didn't, his consent to your recommendation was therefore not 'informed.'"
No wonder doctors in the US are stressed out ! Imagine having to do all this ( including talking to the patient, making a diagnosis and advising treatment) in less than 10 minutes, 20 times a day !

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