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employee - malpractice risk

Does Your Front Desk Employee Increase Your Malpractice Risk?

Your front desk employee is likely your practice's first point of contact with patients, family members and caregivers. That's why it's important to review your practice policies and procedures in the following areas:

Communication Etiquette

Greeting patients by name helps personalize the patient encounter and builds good rapport. Remember, making a good impression is a priority during every interaction, not just at the first appointment.

When answering calls, it is important that your employees identify themselves and the name of your practice. If it is necessary to place a caller on hold, the front desk employee should ask for permission and wait for the answer. When taking messages, your employees should relay when a response might be provided.

Ideally, your practice will have a process for handling patient complaints. Patients with substantive complaints should be invited to discuss their concerns in person rather than over the phone.

Prioritizing Calls

Train your employees not to provide any advice to patients and to know when to interrupt you. You are generally responsible for any acts or omissions committed by staff members—even if you’re unaware of them.

Documenting Calls

Document the caller’s name and relationship to the patient, the date/time of the call, the reason for the call, instructions given and a call back number. Additionally, document all clinically relevant calls in the patient’s record—using a form can help capture relevant information consistently. (See related article.)

It is also important to document calls that involve the exchange of clinical information, including reports of a complication or concern, requests for advice, and calls to patients regarding follow-up efforts.

As the doctor, you should review all telephone entries—the only way to validate involvement in the care is to document your efforts.

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