Advice has a hard life. It is wanted least by those who need it most. It is usually far more pleasurable to give than to receive, and the recipient often throws it into the junk drawer or the wastebasket as soon as the giver's back is turned. This all makes it more remarkable that advice on malpractice risk reduction is not merely valued but sought out. And this issue contains a treasure trove of malpractice advice in the cover story by Edward G. Zurad, MD. His advice may be particularly welcome because he has been there. He is a family physician who has successfully defended his care in a malpractice suit and has testified as an expert witness in other suits. He has seen what gets doctors into trouble and what keeps them out, and he knows enough to make his advice worth reading and rereading.
Zurad's article is exceptionally practical and readable; it is organized as a collection of 34 take-home tips applying to documentation, follow-up, procedures and patient relations. Some you will have heard before, but I'll bet you find them good reminders. Other tips may well be new to you or presented in a new light. Taken together, they constitute good preventive care. They'll help protect you and your practice from one of the more prevalent diseases of our litigious society, perhaps leading to improvements in the quality of your care and certainly helping ensure you can demonstrate that quality when challenged.
Got some advice of your own?
Good as Zurad's article is, it's not the last word on risk reduction. We'll give you that last word. Some time back, I asked readers to supply risk-reduction tips they had found useful, and those tips appear from time to time in the “Practice Pearls” department. But I'm sure there's more wisdom on the subject out there. If you have a piece of risk-reduction advice you'd like to pass along – something that Zurad doesn't cover and that you haven't seen recently in FPM – I would invite you to e-mail it to email@example.com. If we run it in “Practice Pearls,” we'll pay you $25 for the privilege of repeating another worthwhile piece of advice.