Cooperating for better care.

Georgette Samaritan

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Follow-up to avoid malpractice suit


For physicians to merely write “patient did not comply”  with the physician’s recommendation is not enough to protect physicians  or hospitals in malpractice cases.

Juries place much responsibility for follow-up  on physicians, including what steps they took to remind patients of the need for adhering to a physician’s directives

How you document noncompliance (or nonadherence) can mean the difference between winning or losing a lawsuit — and often preventing the suit from being filed at all.

“Comparative fault laws vary by state, but a patient’s recovery is often reduced or prohibited on the basis of the percentage of fault attributed to the plaintiff, noted Georgette Samaritan, RN, BSN, senior risk-management consultant with MAG Mutual, a liability carrier based in Atlanta,” says an article in MedScape.

James Lewis Griffith Sr., a malpractice lawyer in Philadelphia said: “I have a case in which an internist told a depressed patient to see a psychologist. The doctor found out that the patient never went. Several weeks later, the patient committed suicide. Two ‘expert’ witness physicians have provided reports that it was gross negligence not to notify the patient that he was at risk. We live in a Teflon age. No responsibility sticks to me but attaches only to everyone else. You need to document as specifically as possible that you told the patient the risks of not complying with your advice.”

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