Business Ethics

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This weekend I had to forgo my Saturday clinic shift for a weekend class. The class called "Business Ethics and Management" is only one credit or 15 hours, so it was easily squeezed into a long weekend. After completing the class, I must say I definitely preferred to have the class over a weekend rather than throughout the entire trimester. Some students might balk at the idea of having class on a weekend especially if they work, but the professor sets the weekend for the class at the beginning of the trimester, leaving enough time to request time off.  

Dr. Bruce Hodges taught the class, and since he is fun and light-humored it made the time go faster. The class is what any medical school needs but may not offer. When sitting in class, some may think of the information as second nature but others may learn a few great things. "Business Ethics and Management" covered topics such as boundaries in the medical office, managing difficult patients and how to spot them in advance, and doctor/patient communication and roles. 

Practice Boundaries

We began the class with a discussion of boundaries. Sexual boundaries are probably the number one reason doctors have lawsuits filed against them. Many doctors may not know this but you can't date your patients or staff. If one does want a relationship, they need to refer the patient to another doctor and the staff could no longer work for the doctor. Doctors have gotten in legal trouble even after three years of ending a relationship, so it's never safe to date a patient or staff. The ethical boards always favor the patient over the doctor. This just makes defending oneself even more difficult.

Trouble Patients

We also discussed how to spot "trouble patients," who may be looking for ways to render a lawsuit. A patient who always asks for the last appointment of the day when other staff may have already gone home may be a concern to watch out for. We touched on subjects such as treating family and friends, minors, and those that might have religious beliefs that affect patient care. Dr. Hodges stated that any kind of litigation, whether the doctor is found guilty or not guilty, has detrimental effects on the physician's practice, as well as his mental health and reputation.  

However, there is an easy way to avoid the stress of litigation; all it takes is communication by the doctor with his patient. One in five patients will switch doctors because of the doctor's lack of communication with them, as well as a disregard for them personally. Patients don't like to feel like another number or sale, that's why many are seeking out "alternative care." If the patient feels like the doctor genuinely cares about them as a person and their health, they are more likely to refer the doctor to friends. A prolific relationship between doctor and patient may also curb any litigation in the event harm does occur. That's so big! To me that's so basic, common courtesy, but to others that may lack "people" skills, it may be challenging. Our clinic shifts are just another way to practice your communication skills as well as exposure to the many different flavors of personality.   

So all future health care providers, remember patient's needs come before your own!

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