The practice of medicine is not easy. Judgment is what it is and on any given day your decisions based on available information can be different. Slight differences in information can easily change what you do, when you do it and how you do it. So make no assumptions and go back to the time when you made the judgment call to lock down your assumptions.

ü        Don’t rush in your practice and take the time to document what you do and why. There is nothing more damning than an incomplete record that you later try to fill in.

ü        Never, never, never alter a medical record because it screams “GUILTY!”

ü        Take the time to explain to your patients and to document in the chart the potential complications.

ü        Be prompt when addressing patient concerns even with patients you don’t necessarily like or trust.

ü        Slow your practice down and dictate as close to the event as possible.

ü        When answering a patient’s concerns take the time to do it in a way that shows you value their questions.

ü        Look the patient in the eye when answering their questions.

These aren’t all the ways to avoid the perception of incompetence, but it’s a start.

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Iowa Board of Medicine

Steve Lombardi
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