Time Management Tips for Physicians

The world is a busy place and is going to keep getting busier.  Everybody seems to be running against the clock and physicians are no different.  Already swamped, physicians find themselves even busier with the addition of approximately 22.4 million new patients – courtesy the Affordable Care Act.  Treating patients, administrative work, departmental and team meetings, conferences, keeping up with the latest developments in healthcare – all these coupled with taking out time for the family and other social commitments, is definitely taking its toll on our healthcare professionals.  The result – stress builds up, energy levels drop and very often, mistakes occur.  While this is true for nearly all professionals in most fields, the problem with healthcare professionals is that their mistakes can often end up being life threatening.

The reason why most people end up in such stressful situations is because they are not trained to manage their time.  Professional courses (other than corporate management training programs) very rarely offer any training on time management.  The result – most people end up juggling multiple activities with knowing how to streamline and manage them.  Given below are some well tested time management tips that should help you – the healthcare professional to balance your time between the various activities throughout your day.

Prioritize your activities

One of the primary tasks in time management is to prioritize your activities of the day.  Make a list of all that you need to do on that day and the time required for each one of them.  Keep checking that list to see if you are falling behind schedule.  However, remember that the list is not sacrosanct – adjust the activity and time if required.  You will find yourself completing more tasks this way.

Evaluate yourself

To effectively manage your time, you need to know what type of a person you are.  Conduct a SWOT analysis to understand your strengths and weaknesses, the opportunities and threats that you face.  Are you energetic in the mornings or the evening?  Do you dash headlong into activities or are you prone to procrastination?  Understanding yourself and then allocating time to your activity based on your strengths will help you manage them better.

Use technology to the fullest

Technology is a two way sword – while the internet has made it faster to send and receive messages; it is also the reason for a larger number of not so important messages interrupting you throughout the day.  Use technology judiciously.  There are software’s available that allow you to streamline your healthcare practice and reduce paperwork.  Use mobile applications that allow your patients to review their medical records, book appointments and even get prescriptions without having to visit your facility, save time for both you and the patient.

Optimize your EHR

As in the tip on technology – your EHR can be productive or a time consuming part of technology.  This depends totally on how user-friendly your system is, how functional it is for your practice and how well your staff and physicians are trained to work with it.  Although it requires time and effort to optimize your system, it pays huge dividends in the long run saving your time and energy by cutting down on paperwork and allowing access to information on your fingertips.

Learn to delegate

You may be a ‘hands on person’, but remember you just have two hands.  There is no shame or loss of control in delegating some part of your work to others around you.  After all, your administration staff, medical assistants, interns and volunteers are there for this purpose – to take on responsibilities and work and leave you with time to manage your patient’s well being.

You are allowed to say ‘No’

People look up to you and ask for your help frequently – be realistic about your workload.  Can you accommodate the request without compromising on your priorities? If yes, then go ahead but if the answer is no, then do yourself and the other person a favor by saying no.  Saying yes when you should be saying no will only increase your stress levels, exhaust you mentally and physically and decrease your productivity – none of which will benefit either of you.  Attending every conference, speaking at seminars is definitely good for your career – but only if you can continue your career without suffering a burnout from over-exhausting yourself.

Learn to relax

The brain rejuvenates itself when you relax – it could be a power nap, listening to music, taking a walk or just sitting with your eyes closed.  A rejuvenated brain works faster and better, allowing you work more efficiently and thus save on the time taken.  Schedule small relaxing breaks into your day and follow them as rigorously as you would follow your other activities.


References

  1. Casey, J. (2016). 6 Tips for Better Time Management. Retrieved May 28, 2016, from http://www.webmd.com: http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/features/time-management-tips
  2. Kersley, S. E. (2016). Time Management – The five mistakes doctors make. Retrieved May 28, 2016, from http://www.support4doctors.org: http://www.support4doctors.org/detail.php/46/time-management-the-five-mistakes-doctors-make?category_id=15
  3. Reese, S. (2016, April 27). 12 Smart Time Management Tips for Doctors. Retrieved May 28, 2016, from http://www.medscape.com: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/860328_2
  4. Taylor, J. (2013, October 15). 6 TIME MANAGEMENT TIPS FOR HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS. Retrieved May 28, 2016, from http://www.carecloud.com: http://www.carecloud.com/blog/6-time-management-tips-for-healthcare-professionals/

Common Medical Mistakes That Cause Litigation

Mistakes are made by all humans.  However, some mistakes prove costlier than others – in terms of either physical or mental damages to the receiver and financially to the maker.  Mistakes made by healthcare professionals fall under this category and result in medical malpractice cases against the professional concerned.  Medical malpractice is said to occur when the healthcare provider has been negligent and the care provided is not up to the accepted standard.  Within the ambit of errors that lead to these malpractice suits, there are certain types of errors that seem to crop up more often than others.  Given below are some of the more common medical errors that may result in malpractice suits.

Delayed or Misdiagnosis

A delayed diagnosis will result in precious time wasted – time during which the patient could have started getting treatment.  This can lead to severe complications or even death, depending on the severity of the problem.  Similarly, misdiagnDelayed_or_Misdignosis_Expert Witness_Indiana_Dr. Patelosis can not only cause delay to the correct treatment for the problem, it can complicate the issue further due to the wrong treatment of the problem.  It is of paramount importance that healthcare professionals ask for further tests or consult other professionals if there is any doubt about the cause of the illness.  Referring the patient for a second opinion is far better than making a mistake in the diagnosis.

Medication Errors

Medication errors are probably the most common of medical errors, resulting in over a million patients suffering from this every year. Medication_Errors_Expert Witness_Indiana_Dr. Patel Medication errors can occur due to a number of causes – bad handwriting, wrong medication due to misdiagnosis, wrong dosage either by the doctor or the administrator of the medicine (if administered by a healthcare professional), malfunction of the equipment used to administer the medication, drugs that have passed their expiry date, the wrong drug administered in a hospital and many other.  It is important to double check the patient’s previous history, their reaction to drugs that might trigger allergies and explain the dosage and method of administering the drug to the patient.

Errors related to Anesthesia

Errors related to anesthesia can be more dangerous for the patient than even surgical errors.  Mistakes made while administering anesthesia can not only cause injuries of a permanent nature like damage to the brain, but can also result in the death of the patient.Errors_related_To_Anesthesia_Expert Witness_Indiana_Dr. Patel  Errors made by an anesthetist can be due to administering the wrong dosage of anesthesia, failure to monitor the patient’s vital signs while the patient is under the influence of the drug, intubating the patient incorrectly or the use of faulty or defective equipment.  Errors also occur if the anesthetist does not investigate the patient’s medical history which may point to complications that may arise with administering anesthesia and also if the patient is not informed of the precautions to be taken both pre and post the administration of anesthesia.

Surgery Errors

Most surgery errors stem from negligence by the healthcare professional/s.  Complications arising during surgery may or may not be solved – and does not constitute a medical error.Surgery_Errors_Expert Witness_Indiana_Dr. Patel  However, operating on the wrong body part, puncturing other internal organs, leaving behind surgical instruments inside the patient, etc., all constitute medical errors and will lead to a malpractice suit.  Negligence during post-operative care also constitutes medical error.  It is important for healthcare professionals involved with surgery to be alert and focused during the procedure and in the care that follows.

Errors relating to Childbirth

Errors relating to childbirth can take place during the tenure of the pregnancy or during childbirth itself.  Negligence, lack of proper care, incorrect medication, misdiagnosis of the mother’s condition is some of the causes for errors in prenatal care. Errors_Relating_to_Childbirth_Expert Witness_Indiana_Dr. Patel Negligence during childbirth can be due to the wrong use of forceps or vacuum extractor,complications arising due to failure to respond to distress signs made by the fetus, not ordering a cesarean when required or even failure to anticipate complications when previous tests indicate that there could be some.

While it is true that no healthcare professional would knowingly harm a patient, it is expected that they would also not allow errors to take place.  There could be multiple reasons why a healthcare professional failed to restrict an error, but that does not generally hold any value in a malpractice suit.  After all, the patient goes to the healthcare professional because they are knowledgeable experts in treating illness and providing healthcare.


References

  1. 12 Most Common Medical Errors (And How to Prevent Them). (2016). Retrieved May 20, 2016, from http://www.pharmacytechniciancertification.net: http://pharmacytechniciancertification.net/12-most-common-medical-errors-and-how-to-prevent-them/
  2. Common Errors by Doctors and Hospitals. (2016). Retrieved May 20, 2016, from http://www.myphiladelphiainjurylawyer.com: http://myphiladelphiainjurylawyer.com/medical-malpractice/errors-by-doctors-and-hospitals/
  3. Michon, K. (2016). Medical Malpractice: Common Errors by Doctors and Hospitals. Retrieved May 20, 2016, from http://www.nolo.com: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/medical-malpractice-common-errors-doctors-hospitals-32289.html
  4. Miller, A. M. (2015, March 30). 5 Common Preventable Medical Errors. Retrieved May 20, 216, from http://www.health.usnews.com: http://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/slideshows/5-common-preventable-medical-errors/1