Health care providers can create problems for themselves when they ignore the basic needs and rights of their patients. A selfie with an unconscious patient, for example, is probably contrary to the privacy rights of that person. Such an invasion of privacy could become even more serious if the patient has a negative outcome. Arizona residents may remember that Joan Rivers' death during a routine procedure included such a scenario. At least one physician took a photo with the patient after she was unconscious.
In Rivers' case, an unplanned biopsy occurred without proper approval. Many facilities endeavor to avoid claims of hospital negligence by ensuring that all procedures are discussed with and approved by patients prior to anesthesia being administered. If an unexpected change in the procedure must occur, a strategy such as obtaining verbal approval from an authorized loved one might be used to ensure that liability concerns are not an issue.
Providers may also want to pay particular attention to issues that are well-known for causing negative outcomes. For example, about 7,000 deaths are caused annually by medication errors, making it wise to devote resources to more careful oversight. A tired staff could also lead to more mistakes, which means that hours worked may need to be managed more carefully. Additionally, staff members might need to review signs of medication allergies and other indications of poor reactions to treatment to ensure that a patient's distress is identified promptly.
Although negative medical outcomes may not always be the result of malpractice or provider errors, careful adherence to protocol and attentiveness to patient concerns is important for reducing medical malpractice claims. Failure to pay attention to patient complaints could lead to malpractice claims if the concerns are later validated after an adverse reaction or outcome.