Health Care Practice Management Legal Blunders: Criminal and Civil Law

By Nitin Chhoda PT, DPT on August 27, 2012

The first priority of physical therapy management is to give 100% patient care while obeying the law. Nitin Chhoda explains why avoiding legal suits is important, as this will affect the standing of your physical therapy business.

health care practice management blundersA patient sues for malpractice and your entire health care practice management is at risk.

Even if the case is eventually decided in favor of the practice and it is determined that you did nothing wrong, the legal cost of defending the practice can be devastating.

On top of financial fears due to legal expenses, there is a very good chance that your other patients will hear about the lawsuit and some patients may leave your practice for less tarnished options. Potential new clients may learn about the lawsuit as their introduction to your practice.

Needless to say, avoiding legal action from patients is a very big priority for health care practice management.

Steps to Avoid a Lawsuit

With so many opportunities for patients to accuse a health care practice management  systems of negligence or malpractice, it may seem impossible to avoid a lawsuit if it’s coming at you. But there are some steps you can take to ensure that patients are heard before they start thinking about legal action.

Most importantly, clinicians and all staff of the health care practice management should be educated about the risks of legal action.

Criminal and civil lawsuit examples should be discussed among the staff so that everyone understands their role in avoiding a lawsuit. This should include not just patient-staff relations but also the employee-employer responsibilities.

  • When a situation does arise where a patient or employee feels they are being taken advantage of or mistreated, the action that health care practice management takes may determine how far things escalate. Never underestimate a claim, even if it is totally unfounded.
  • Be sure to spend time listening to the complaints, as it may be enough for the patient to be heard and acknowledged. However, rather than giving in and being apologetic, be sure to stand firmly on your policies and avoid saying things that could incriminate your health care practice management.

  • The first step in any litigation will include mediation. In some ways, you should consider mediation as your first option when a serious complaint of your health care practice management is filed.
  • There should be an easy-to-use complaint filing system and ways for patients to give feedback, so that they feel confident they are being heard. If a patient is frustrated while simply trying to file a complaint, their estimation of your practice will only diminish further.
  • Introducing a third party mediator or legal consultant for the health care practice management can be the right step for many situations. Especially if you have legal advice that suggests you are not in the wrong, bringing a third opinion into the conversation may help you to avoid an actual lawsuit.
  • And just like in any legal situation, it will probably be less expensive to work things out before things escalate, even if you win your case in the end.

Bigger Picture Thinking

health care practice management lawsAvoiding legal mistakes will be a challenge for any health care practice management team, but most especially for small practices that do not have significant resources.

Remember to focus on the big picture and consider how each step and each action your practice takes will reflect on the community’s perception of the practice.

But don’t be afraid to stand up for what you know is correct and to hear out complaints in an effort to reduce the potential for damage.

About Nitin Chhoda PT, DPT

Nitin Chhoda PT, DPT is the CEO of In Touch EMR and In Touch Biller Pro, an electronic medical records and medical billing software system built be leaders in the physical therapy software industry, with thousands of satisfied customers across the world. For more information, please visit www.InTouchEmr.com and www.InTouchBillerPro.com