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6 Good Risk Management Practices

(That Are Also Just Good Patient Care)

The actions that protect you against risk also give your patient a great experience. These six steps will go a long way toward both.

When you have cause to review lots of case studies, you start to notice a few things. One of the most basic: the actions that protect you against risk also give your patient a great experience. It's a win-win situation, even more so since people are less likely to file a complaint against someone they like.

Let's look at 6 simple steps to ensure a good patient experience — and build a strong foundation if a claim occurs.

1. Review documents that are available, including images. Especially if you haven't seen the patient before, or it has been a while, take a few minutes to look through records you have from your relationship with the patient or that have been provided by other healthcare professionals. Not only does this let you walk into the room prepared, it reassures your patient they are important to you.

2. Perform a proper history. Even if you saw your patient last week, it's a good idea to have a conversation to note if there have been changes in their environment, physical activities, and general health. If it's been longer or this is the first visit, spend a few more minutes discussing what's happening in their home and work life and how it may be impacting their health. 

3. Do your own exam. Don't rely on old notes, especially if you have not explored what may have occurred since those notes were made. It's essential to bring together what's happening from the history, what's happening from the examination, and what's occurring in their activities of daily living.

4. Ask patients to self-report their progress (or lack of progress). For example, some doctors ask patients to complete a short form at each visit that says, "I feel better, the same, or worse" than my last visit. This requires the patient to think about their health and creates a historical document – in their writing – for your records.

5. Communicate and educate. Patients don't have the wealth of human body knowledge that you acquired from many years of school. They only know something hurts. A significant portion of the adult population has some form of disc degeneration but is unaware of it,a how it happens, and what they can do to alleviate it. This is your opportunity to shine. Educate them, in layman's terms, about the processes their body goes through as we age.

6. Refer out when appropriate. Some DCs are concerned about referring out, believing they will lose the patient. However, frequently the opposite is true. Patients feel you're listening and are concerned for their well-being more than your wallet.

The takeaway is simple: risk management basics "rule."

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