We've just started receiving lectures on the legality and ethics of medicine, and already we're all very aware that we are all going to get sued, inevitably, and soon.
One of my tutors, a family practitioner, told me that of all his friends in plastic surgery, each and every one of them has at least one pending lawsuit at all times. If one gets settled, there's always another one that is ongoing.
So every time I've heard of a doctor getting sued, I've started taking a mental note as to what they did, so that I won't do it. Here are a few of the mental notes I've collected.
- If a patient needs blood to save their life, and they're carrying a Jehovah's Witness card saying "no blood," don't give it to them.
- If you're putting in a central line and you put the needle in the wrong place, pull it out before adjusting the angle; moving it around inside will cause it to damage important nerve tissue.
- If you have gotten a patient to sign a consent form, it doesn't mean they've given consent. They can still pull their consent after they've signed the form, and the verbal dissent is what's legally binding.
- If someone tells you "Come help, someone is having seizures," don't reply, "Bring them here." If they're a reasonable distance away, failure to attend is professional misconduct.
- Don't diagnose things outside your office for your friends. Bad, bad, bad. If you do, don't forget to say, "If it gets worse, go see a doctor."
EDIT (11/23) - Follow-up to this post here