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Wednesday, August 01, 2018

What Happens After a Patient Makes a Complaint?

When a patient makes a claim against their doctor or surgeon, the one thing you can be sure of is that they are seeking compensation for some wrongdoing, imagined or real, on the part of the medical professional and/or the surgery or hospital.

Many doctors have never been faced with this ordeal and although they carry the appropriate liability coverage and indemnity, they simply don’t know how to respond after a patient makes a claim. Here is some of what you need to know should you ever be faced with this situation.

Always Be on the Aware

One bit of advice offered by https://incisionindemnity.com/ is to always be aware of anything a patient or their advocate might do or say, triggering a light that indicates they may be thinking about filing a claim. As it has been said so many times in the past, to be forewarned is to be forearmed and if you even suspect a claim is on the horizon, it may be time to alert your solicitor and/or your insurance carrier. There are times when both a claim and an unfavorable outcome can be prevented if your insurance and legal teams are on the alert ready to forestall any long-lasting and damaging actions that could affect your career.

Look for such things as a threat to report you to the General Medical Council. At other times, they will simply start asking for in-depth records and reports which may indicate a reason other than record keeping. You may first be the subject of an internal investigation and that should get you thinking about an incident where a patient maybe died unexpectedly or safety issues which may have led to, or potentially led to, harm to the patient.

How Claims Are Filed

Typically, in a medical claim, the claimant will be represented by a lawyer who claims you were negligent in your duty of care. Their legal counsel will then notify your insurance company that a claim is being filed, state the underlying justification for the claim and then proceed to file all the proper forms and documents with the courts. At that point, your insurance company will contact you because they want to see you cleared of any wrongdoing and of course they don’t want to pay frivolous or fraudulent claims. They will work hard on your behalf to defend you, but sometimes there may be no defense and this is where a lawyer well versed in health claims can be a valued asset on your defense team.

Consequences of Valid Claims

There are varying degrees to the consequences you may be faced with if the patient or the patient’s advocate wins their claim against you. Sometimes the consequence is simply financial as in a monetary award for injury or pain and suffering and other times the consequences may lead to such things as being refused cover going forward, disciplinary action from the GMC, and sometimes a claim can be so severe as to lead to your being withdrawn from the medical profession. Some claims have resulted in doctors losing their privilege to practice medicine. While these claims are extreme and typically the result of several claims over a period of time or a class action suit, it can happen, and it is something to be aware of.

What happens after a patient makes a claim can be up to you. If you are quick on your feet and are aware of the signs of an imminent claim, you can have your defence lawyer on the job even before a claim hits the courts. It is up to you to contact your insurance company and your legal counsel to avoid matters getting out of control. Act quickly and you may be able to prevent that worst case scenario every doctor dreads.

This is a guest blog entry.

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