During the last decade, there have been roughly 12,414 cases of medical malpractice in the United States alone. Instances of medical malpractice often lead to messy legal battles, which can negatively affect a physician’s career and reputation. While some of these cases are unavoidable, there are measures that you can take as a physician to lower your chance of getting sued. Today, we will discuss how focusing on patient satisfaction is an important step in reducing malpractice risk.
Minimizing medical malpractice obviously stems from a desire to protect patients from avoidable harm. But, did you know that avoiding malpractice is also connected to your health as a doctor? Studies have shown that physicians experience a range of negative sensations as they deal with malpractice lawsuits. These sensations range from shock, outrage, dread, anxiety, and depression to physical illness. Repercussions such as these can be especially dangerous if the individual is already dealing with physician burnout. An already burned-out physician dealing with these emotions could resort to drastic measures, such as suicide. So, in an attempt to protect patients and physicians alike, reducing malpractice risk should be a top priority for medical professionals across all specialties.
Reducing Malpractice Risk | Tips for Patient Satisfaction
But how can this be done? While there is no easy way to fix this problem, improving patient satisfaction is definitely a step in the right direction.
Measure Patient Satisfaction
Before you attempt to alleviate patient dissatisfaction, it’s important to identify what is making some of your patients unhappy. There are many ways that you can learn where you stand with your patients. Here are a few suggestions we have for you.
Give Regular Surveys — According to one study, patient surveys are actually a very accurate reflection of how patients feel about the quality of care they’ve received. Consistently sending out paper or electronic surveys will help you determine how you can improve your practice. For best results, make sure you send these surveys in the days following your patient’s appointment. This will ensure that their feedback is accurate.
Make Feedback Easy — While full-length surveys are preferable, they aren’t always practical. Some people respond better to short, concise formats. Using scale-based responses, like gauging how likely it is that someone would recommend your practice to a friend. This requires less of a time commitment from the person taking the survey. Therefore, they are more likely to complete it.
Focus Groups / Patient Interviews — If you’re consistently receiving poor survey results, try inviting small groups of individuals to provide in-depth feedback. Not only will you get more detailed feedback, but it also shows your patients that you value what they have to say.
Increasing Patient Satisfaction
Once you have a better understanding of what is making your patients upset, it’s time to make improvements. Some of the most common issues can be resolved with relatively simple approaches. However, reducing malpractice risk is a complex issue that sometimes involves issues with a physician’s training, personal health, and proper communication between entire medical teams. Nonetheless, here are a few simple suggestions to help make your patients happier.
Reduce Wait Times — In physicians’ offices across the nation, long wait times consistently rank as the number issue that patients complain about. Unfortunately, this can cause patients to leave your practice and even dissuade other patients from seeing you. Although there isn’t always a lot you can do, making an effort to reduce wait times can definitely make a huge difference!
Create a Nice Environment — One of the most significant factors in creating a pleasant space is natural sunlight. Sunshine improves mood, reduces depression, and generally makes for happier patients. Having plants or natural features in a physician’s office can also help to reduce stress and make patients and staff feel more at ease.
Focus on Communication — It’s clear that patient-clinician communication is vital to a healthy patient-provider relationship. This can be as simple as reassuring patients that they will be seen as soon as possible during long wait times or simply hiring a friendly and helpful staff. It is also very important to give clear directions to your patients when it comes to treatments and medications. Establishing understanding before, during, and after a visit can be a key factor in reducing malpractice risk. And, luckily, it’s something you have complete control over!
What are some of the ways that you are reducing malpractice risk? Let us know in the comments below!