Although medical treatment is improving throughout India, instances of medical negligence caused by medical professionals are still alarmingly high. Treatments/surgeries are not always in the control of the doctor. However, there are a few steps that can be taken into consideration to avoid medical negligence.
1. To establish a good relation: This step is essential to be able to communicate with the patient honestly and helps his family gain a good understanding of the procedure to be followed in treating the patient.
2. Documentation: It is essential to conduct the proper documentation for all the treatments administered to the patient, along with the appropriate information, medical professionals should try and record all the findings, advice, decisions, etc.
3. To be up-to-date with the current standard of care: Ignorance of the law is not a defence acceptable in the court of law. Hence it is crucial for the doctors to up to date with the current scenario as medical regulations may be amended from time to time.
4. Consent: It is essential to take consent from the patient before conducting any surgery. The medical professional should inform the patient about all the risks involved, the cost of the surgery, the course of the treatment, possible circumstances and other such details. This gives a chance to the patient to review different alternative options. This simple step can avoid a medical negligence claim.
5. To be clear and consistent: In addition to the first point above, it is necessary to be clear and consistent in explaining the patient his condition. Since the patients will not understand most medical terms used by the medical professional, it is important to break it down to them in a simple language.
6. Follow-Ups: The medical professionals, during different stages of the patient's treatment, should conduct follow-ups (mainly post the surgery in relation to any unknown reaction) to avoid any claim of medical negligence. A hospital should have set protocols for such follow-ups to have a standard procedure to be followed by all the medical professionals dealing with patients.
7. Manage expectations: Since one of the key measures to avoid medical negligence is communication, it is on the doctors to manage any false hopes that may arise. The doctor has to even communicate with the family members since false expectations in case of death of the patient shall cause an unnecessary claim of medical negligence.
8. Audit: To review the practices by the staff and other professionals of the hospital. This can be done with the help of a disinterested third party which performs periodic surveys and can help maintain consistent records.
Adding these steps in the routine practice can prevent the claims of medical negligence and would also benefit in strengthening the case of medical professionals if a lawsuit arises. Such a risk management scheme will help to maintain a high standard of care of the patient and also provide good publicity to the hospital.