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What's the Risk?

RM products FINAL-06

Our “2 Minutes: What’s the Risk?” video series features clinical, quality, and legal consultants discussing medical liability issues. The short format is ideal for sharing with staff at the opening to team meetings or other learning opportunities to provide a high-level view of common risk topics. View our video library below, or subscribe to the Risk Management YouTube channel to catch the ongoing series.

Claims Litigation
Civil Litigation

In our increasingly litigious society, medical professionals need to be well-versed in the civil litigation process. With that in mind, let’s talk about sitting for a deposition and what that entails.

Medical Office
Medical Record Documentation

Medical record documentation serves many functions. The primary purpose is to record the care you provide to patients and to communicate your plan of care to other providers involved in the patient's treatment.

Doctor-Patient Communications
Criticizing Prior Care

Criticism in any form whether written or verbally expressed has the potential to lead to patient misunderstanding. When patients hear comments that suggest the mismanagement of a case, they begin to think the care received was substandard.

Medical Staff
Medical Ethics

The goal of medical ethics is finding the most reasonable solution based on the totality of the circumstances. Aspects of patient safety, liability risk management, and clinical ethics overlap in that they involve scrutinizing problems occurring during a patient’s healthcare encounter. Improving the patient’s experience and well-being is a means for reducing overall risk.

Doctor Patient Communications
Minor Consent and Confidentiality

Obtaining consent to treat a minor is a complex issue that requires a delicate balance between a minor's rights, parental rights, and ethical obligations of the healthcare provider. Information from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Does the HIPAA Privacy Rule allow parents the right to see their children’s medical records?” was used in this video.

Claims Litigation
Misconceptions About Informed Consent

Informed consent is a fundamental ethical and legal requirement in healthcare, but beware of these common misconceptions about what it entails.

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Tracking and Follow-Up

When referrals and diagnostic orders are made, the procedures must be air-tight to ensure accurate, relevant information is received, documented, reviewed, and acted upon.

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Cyber-attacks are rising in many industries, and healthcare operations are no exception. Healthcare operations can be inviting targets for cybercriminals because of the wealth of information contained in the medical record. In addition to protected health information, medical records often contain financial information – such as credit card and social security numbers.

ProAssurance Value Adds
Risks of Social Media

Social media is a critical communication and promotional tool for most businesses and healthcare providers are no exception. However, there are many potential risks that healthcare professionals should be aware of when utilizing social media.

Claims Litigation
Responding to Subpoenas

As a healthcare provider, you may receive a subpoena requesting the release of a patient's medical records. Understanding the legal obligations and procedures for responding to such subpoenas is an essential part of the modern practice of medicine.

Physician Wellness
The Power of Medical Errors: A Physician’s Perspective

Author of "When We Do Harm: A Doctor Confronts Medical Error," Dr. Danielle Ofri talks about the emotional impact of medical errors on caregivers and how to approach them among the care team.

Claims Litigation
Direct Liability

In medical liability lawsuits, hospitals, medical groups, and other healthcare entities can be held directly liable for their own negligence in addition to any vicariously liability for their employee’s negligence. This 2 Minute video explains how proper documentation can help mitigate direct liability risk.

Natural Disaster
Natural Disaster Mitigation and Preparation

The lack of predictability and the potential long-term effects of a natural disaster can cripple an unprepared healthcare entity. Proper emergency management preparation and mitigation can vastly decrease vulnerabilities during a natural disaster. This video offers risk mitigation strategies to help your practice prepare.

Medical Staff
Behavioral Health in Emergency Departments

Millions of Americans present to emergency departments with behavioral health complaints each year. In this video, we offer strategies that could improve outcomes for patients in psychiatric crisis and reduce the burden on hospital emergency departments.

Contingency Planning
Closing a Practice

There may be a number of reasons why a physician may be closing his or her practice. Whatever the reason, there are certain considerations for ensuring a smooth transition for patients. In this video, Mallory Earley, Southeast Regional Risk Manager, discusses some of those considerations. Learn about notifying patients and taking steps to safeguard patient records after the close of the practice.

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Unexpected Outcomes

While healthcare providers do not intend to cause harm, unexpected outcomes can occur. However, a regrettable result does not mean that there was negligence. Prompt and honest communication can have an impact on whether the unanticipated outcome will lead to a lawsuit.


Complying with HIPAA mandates to safeguard protected health information (PHI) is essential for medical practices, and challenging when PHI is handled by third-party vendors subject to HIPAA compliance. This video offers strategies that can help.


The 21st Century CURES Act, enacted in 2016, established new federal regulations on a variety of healthcare concerns including funding, research, access to new and experimental drugs, telehealth, and interoperability of health information technology and introduces a new phrase to the healthcare community: information blocking.

Medical Staff
Advance Directives

Advance directives are legal documents created by a patient prior to healthcare treatment to record preferences regarding their care They are one of a number of areas where patients’ rights and healthcare operations intersect. In this video, Nichole Pieters discusses advance directives and the potential risk exposures posed by an organization’s failure to properly follow the documented wishes of a patient.

Medical Office
Service Animals

What happens when a patient shows up at your office or facility with a dog and claims that it is a service animal? Do you allow the animal in the waiting room with your other patients? Do you have the right to ask the patient why they require this animal? You soon find out that the dog is actually an emotional support animal. So now what? In this video, we review the difference between service animals and emotional support animals.

Medical Staff

Often, physicians and staff must accomplish a patient task but cannot use the ideal method because the current work process has a flaw. Workarounds, or deviations from the standard process, are informal temporary workflows to accomplish a task that is perceived as dysfunctional. These alternative care deliveries may appear to function adequately, until an adverse event occurs or a patient experiences a near-miss.

Hospital Setting
Safety Huddles

The purpose of safety huddles is to not only provide a trusting forum for your staff to alert team members of unsafe situations, but to support colleagues who may be overwhelmed and need assistance.

Medical Staff
Fall Prevention

Falls in healthcare facilities often result in patient injuries that lead to professional liability litigation for the healthcare provider. While it may not be possible to completely eliminate the risk of falls in your facility, you can implement strategies to improve your fall with injury rate.

Medical Office
After-Hours Calls

Providing patients access to after-hours care requires careful consideration. In this video, Senior Risk Resource Advisor Laurette Salzman discusses the importance of a consistent process for response to after-hours calls for improving both patient satisfaction and outcomes.

Telemedicine and Informed Consent

Although some states specifically regulate the process for informed consent in telemedicine, there are a number of general factors a physician should consider when obtaining that consent, such as the nature of the patient’s condition, confidentiality, and the technological capabilities necessary.

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Litigation Collaboration Network – More Than Legal Defense

ProAssurance Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Hayes Whiteside, describes the Litigation Collaboration Network, which offers collegial support for physicians named as defendants in litigation.

Contingency Planning
Independent Medical Examinations

Physicians are often asked by third parties to perform Independent Medical Examinations, or IMEs, on patients. While these examinations are typically limited in scope and often do not give rise to the traditional physician/patient relationship, they can still present a liability risk to the physician.

Medical Staff
Staff Competencies

The process of obtaining and documenting clinical staff competencies has evolved from a once per year checklist into an ongoing process of education and evaluation.

Medical Office
Professionalism in Medical Examinations

Increasingly, news stories feature allegations of inappropriate conduct lodged against individuals in a variety of professional settings. One way for a physician to guard against similar claims is by implementing a chaperone policy for all sensitive examinations.

Medical Staff
Universal Protocol Time Outs

The wrong patient. The wrong surgery. The wrong site. These are concerns that healthcare organizations are still facing. Having an efficient and consistent time-out process is important for every procedure.

Medical Office
Charging for Medical Records

Requests for copies of patient charts and other records have become commonplace for most medical specialties. However, federal and state laws and regulations do not always provide a clear path to reimbursement for the costs and labor of producing these copies.

Hospital Setting
Alert Fatigue

Many electronic monitoring systems use some type of audio alert, like a beep or buzz, to notify medical personnel when a device registers an abnormal bodily function or other condition requiring prompt attention. Studies indicate that as use of electronic systems have become more prevalent in medicine, the number of audio alarms or alerts has also increased dramatically.

Hospital Setting
Disruptive Behavior in Healthcare

Every professional arena includes individuals whose behavior falls short of generally accepted professional standards, and healthcare is not immune to this issue.

Contingency Planning
Contingency Planning for Solo Practitioners

Compliance officer, business manager, human resource director, marketing chief: these are but a few of the roles assumed by the solo practitioner in addition to that of physician. What happens to the solo practitioner’s patients and practice when she is unexpectedly incapacitated?

Hospital Setting
Chain of Command

Chain of command policies are not just for guiding staff through the proper channels to help resolve grievances or other differences. They can also have a positive influence on patient outcomes by encouraging communication and resolving issues.

Medical Staff
Handoff Communication

In this video, Lisa Hallman, a Senior Risk Resource Advisor for ProAssurance, provides several considerations for helping ensure handoff communication is clear, consistent, and effective.

Medical Office
Emergencies in the Medical Office Setting

Medical offices generally are not staffed and equipped like a hospital emergency department but patients and visitors may expect some type of response to a medical emergency.

Hospital Setting
Mental Illness in the Emergency Department

Emergency Departments (EDs) are vital to the delivery of healthcare in emergency situations, but some medical emergencies are more challenging than others.

Hospital Setting
Identifying Retained Surgical Objects

Surgeons and operating room staff ask radiologists to assist in confirming or ruling out a retained surgical object by radiograph. In “Identifying Retained Surgical Objects,” Dr. Bob Stroud explains how his group created a glossary and digital file of commonly used surgical objects to help radiologists and surgeons at their hospital reduce the risk of retained surgical objects.

Doctor-Patient Communications
Patient Complaints

A successful medical practice strives for patient satisfaction, but patients may still complain about care received or some other aspect of a medical practice. In this video, Joanne Simmons, Senior Risk Resource Advisor for ProAssurance, offers suggestions for how a practice might generally respond to a patient complaint. With careful attention to the issue, good communication, and consideration for possible resolutions, you may reduce your risk exposure and possibly find patient satisfaction again.

Medical Staff
Incident Reporting

Senior Risk Resource Advisor Sharron Haroutunian discusses the importance of incident reporting for both managing liability risks and improving processes within a healthcare organization.

ProAssurance Value Adds
The Legal Defense Endorsement

Many ProAssurance policies, regardless of the state in which they are issued, contain a version of the Legal Defense Endorsement. This endorsement provides legal expense and audit expense coverage for what the endorsement defines as “covered investigations” and “covered audits.”

Medical Office
Parental Refusal of Vaccinations for Children

Many parents are refusing vaccinations for their children, and that issue is impacting pediatric practices—as well as other practices that treat pediatric patients. Because of this, many physicians are asking if they must allow unvaccinated children to be patients of the practice.

ProAssurance Value Adds
On-Site Risk Assessments

Have you ever thought about the potential risks your practice faces? One of our value-added services is On-site Risk Assessments—where a highly trained Risk Management consultant comes to your practice and guides you through assessing your potential risk.

Screening Exam Follow-Up

Routine but important screening exams are recommended by physicians every day. The majority of these exams will have normal results not indicative of a serious condition. However, all results require routine follow-up.

Physicians Under Pressure: Helpful Strategies to Reduce Liability

Setting clear plans, goals, and expectations from your first patient encounter is critical when caring for patients.

Doctor-Patient Communications
Physicians Under Pressure: Non-Compliant Patients

Patient non-compliance presents a variety of challenges for physicians, including potentially negative effects on patient outcomes, as well as the relationship between physician and patient.

Doctor-Patient Communications
Physicians Under Pressure: Friendships and Distractions

Patients may desire a social relationship beyond the boundaries of professionalism with their physician. However, minimizing personal distractions may result in a more effective professional physician-patient relationship.

Medical Staff
Three Most Important Issues for Practice Administrators

Statistics show the question of whether a physician will be sued is “when” not “if.”