Tuesday, October 13, 2009

From MGMA: Are you really managing risk?

What do you do if a patient acts inappropriately to a nurse? Or if the patient’s family is threatening to your staff?

And what if one of your employees has been out on disability for months, showing no signs of returning to work?

It’s these issues that practices must consider — and have policies in place to deal with — or be at risk for lawsuits. In other words, managing risk in a practice is more than malpractice and HIPAA.
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For one of the sessions here at the annual MGMA conference in Denver, attorney Judith Holmes and physician Hans Hansen went over some other areas where practices may be at risk. Here are a few examples to consider (and some thoughts on what you should be doing to mitigate that risk):

• Workplace violence from patients, family, current or former employees. You should train staff to deal with potentially violent situations, adopt a zero tolerance policy toward threats, and develop a procedure for reporting and handling these situations.

• Privacy concerns from employee Internet use. Talk with your staff and train them on using the Internet wisely (we’re talking Facebook, personal email, and … worse), and again develop a written policy.

• Equal pay. Time to dust off those job descriptions and make sure you are always documenting your compensation decisions.

The list goes on, but it comes back to having policies in place. The two presenters stressed that practices need sound, written procedures for these situations. And don’t forget to train your staff. Holmes said training “is the wisest investment you can make,” adding, “It’s your best defense against lawsuits and EEOC claims.”

The idea is you'll know what to do when about that threatening patient or the difficult employee.


  1. What about a patient who is disrespectful to the maximum (seems to have psychiatric problems) and now is requesting copies of her medical records. Do you give her the records and do not provide all of them or what?

  2. Anonymous- Would you ever write something in a record that you do not want someone else to read? The information contained in her records are hers- you can charge her for the copies but give everything to her!