Few career paths have the same level of liability concern as the practice of medicine. And rightfully so, when lives and well-being are at stake, the level of exposure is high. There are some steps that every physician should consider when limiting their liability exposure.
Structure your practice as a business entity appropriately. Is it a limited liability company (LLC) or a limited liability partnership (LLP)? According to a very detailed article from the American Academy of Ophthalmology, each of these structures have different advantages in terms of taxation, the administrative tasks required, and liability exposure. When you set up your practice, make sure to have your business attorney walk you through how these differ and what will be the best option for your situation.
Get everything down on paper. Although your day-to-day workflow may be seamless, make sure that your practices, procedures, and policies are all documented in writing and stick to them. Make sure that this includes any regulations your practice needs to adhere to and how all of the business administration is managed including taxes and profit sharing. These documents should also include any buy-out agreements and clear descriptions of any partnerships.
Keep it separated. Be sure to keep all of the aspects of the practice separate. Make it clear that if you work with another physician and there is no partnership agreement between you that patients and staff are aware that there is no partnership. Do not refer to this colleague as a partner in written communications or even verbally. To that end, try to limit your interaction with their patients and keep your overlap to a minimum.
Make sure that you have proper coverage. Take the time to walk your malpractice carrier through the ins and outs of your practice. Explore possible areas of liability exposure and make sure you have the proper coverage in place.
Communicate with your patients. According to ManagedCareMag.com, taking the time to really listen to your patients will go a long way in reducing exposure. Do all that you can to patiently explain things to your patients, engage them, and show empathy toward them. A poor bedside manner won’t just damage the business side of the practice, it may also expose you to a greater likelihood of liability.