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As chief clinical risk officer at Premier Physician Services, Tom Syzek, MD, FACEP, was responsible for loss prevention and claims management. “We never had a single case in which a physician’s apology was used against us in court in Ohio, West Virginia, or South Carolina,” Syzek says.
Syzek was involved in resolving about 30 claims using disclosure, communication, apology, and offer. The group contracted with hospitals to provide ED care and was self-insured through a captive insurance company. When a patient or family contacted the hospital with a complaint, they were referred to Syzek by the hospital’s risk manager if the case involved one of the group’s employed EPs.
“In each of these cases, I was in direct contact with the patient, the parents of a minor, or the family representative,” Syzek recalls. Syzek also remained in contact with hospital risk managers and informed them of the eventual outcome and resolution of each case. This was the process:
All cases were approached using a process of investigation, disclosure, and apology. “In addition, there were offers made and accepted, but only in those cases where I felt we or the physician had some degree of fault or liability,” Syzek says. If it was determined no error was made, there was no offer. Here are some of the cases involving ED care:
The hematoma was noted, the patient was notified, and the patient returned for subsequent appropriate care.
The case was resolved by direct communication with the patient and family, an apology, and a small financial offer.
Financial Disclosure: Kay Ball, PhD, RN, CNOR, FAAN (Nurse Planner) is a consultant for Ethicon USA and Mobile Instrument Service and Repair. The following individuals disclose that they have no consultant, stockholder, speaker’s bureau, research, or other financial relationships with companies having ties to this field of study: Arthur R. Derse, MD, JD, FACEP (Physician Editor), Stacey Kusterbeck (Author), Jonathan Springston (Editor), Jesse Saffron (Editor), Amy M. Johnson, MSN, RN, CPN (Accreditations Manager), and Terrey L. Hatcher (Editorial Group Manager).