Good doctors not only treat what ails their patients, they also educate and encourage their patients to take steps – like nutrition and exercise — that will hopefully prevent illnesses.

The same goes for physicians and their practices – smart physicians develop strategies to control risks and improve patient safety. They also plan for the worst – if something goes wrong, how will they handle an adverse event?

There are about 500,000 physicians in the U.S. and it stands to reason that there is probably a lot of opportunity to help physicians establish proactive plans to do the following concerning their risk of potential loss:

  • Identify and reduce risk.
  • Eliminate activities that produce risk.
  • Insure for uncontrolled risk.
  • Informed consent.
  • Establish controls, standards and regulations to minimize risk.

Some insurance carriers provide resources and do a decent job for their clients – some disappear after the insurance sale. A physician’s best bet is to have someone in-house either full time or part time to direct their business to address these five areas and tie it all together with a good quality-assurance program. There are a lot of resources on the internet and there are some carriers and providers that put together proactive resources for their clients instead of simply reacting to events as they happen.

These are questions a physician needs to address to stay on top of risk management:

  • Describe your formal documentation process for patient records – does it cover consent, privacy and HIPPA?
  • Do you have policies and procedures concerning harassment, ADA and OSHA?
  • Do you have recent documentation for written consent for the types of procedures you perform?
  • Do you have strict protocols that everyone follows concerning medication management?
  • Do you have a formal process for terminating a patient from your practice?

These are just a few of the questions that practices should ask themselves when developing and managing their formal risk management program. The bottom line is that physicians need ongoing help in controlling risks – whether the resources are internal or external and they also need to have adequate liability insurance coverage to protect themselves from the inevitable adverse events.