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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Healthcare professionals are generally held to a high standard. They are not only expected to do the technical aspects of their job excellently well, they are also expected to be people of high character. Let's explore why that is.

A Little History

In many primitive societies, the medicine man is not just a doctor, he is also a spiritual guide. In other words, he is like a religious leader as well. Even the ancient Greeks said: A sound mind in a sound body. Our physical well-being is the basis for our mental health. The two cannot be effectively separated. Thus, it should come as no surprise that even in the modern world we expect our healthcare providers to be people of good character whom we can trust. After all, we entrust them with our lives, both literally and figuratively.

Health and Wealth

Arlen Specter once said "There's nothing more important than our good health - that's our principal capital asset." Anything that negatively impacts a person's health not only makes them miserable, it also robs them of the ability to be productive. As medical bills rise, ability to cover them falls. This is a horrifying prospect. It can feel like an inescapable trap. This makes it especially psychologically important to their patients that healthcare professionals do their job right and not be the cause of such anguish.

Legal Ramifications

Furthermore, healthcare providers are not just in a personal position of trust, they are in a societal position of trust. Their word has legal and financial power. Insurance companies pay claims based on the words and written records of healthcare providers when they would not pay them based on just the patient's word. Having a former patient hire a Pennsylvania lawyer and come back for legal reasons is much more common occurrence. Many healthcare professionals are making sure they are insured for malpractice and taking precautions before any issues arise.

Best Practices

This can be a lot of pressure for a doctor, nurse or other healthcare professional. However, given how much their mistakes can cost others, it is reasonable to expect them to be consistently diligent in their duties and take the time to do it right the first time.

The good news is that studies have shown that it can take just a minute or less of extra effort per patient to significantly reduce malpractice suits. Additionally, these days, the federal government provides clear rules for how to handle healthcare information. Although many small practices are not intimately familiar with HIPAA guidelines, it does not have to be a huge burden to get up to speed. After all, even giant insurance companies only do this training annually.


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