Use telephone policies to reduce malpractice liability

Many malpractice claims are linked to patient dissatisfaction and communication lapses. Therefore, telephone triage, telephone advice, prescription refills, and after-hours calls can be areas of risk for office practices.

Practices should look at the telephone as a useful tool in their daily practice—and as one that staff must handle appropriately. Do not use the telephone as a way of treating or diagnosing patient conditions. Use it as a form of communication: Staff and patient time is valuable, so use the telephone to prioritize and manage patient needs and desires.

You can reduce much of the risk associated with these areas by using proper documentation, education, and training. A policy that dictates a process and procedure for each area of telephone communication is essential, and the medical staff and physicians must follow it.

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