No one argues that physicians have a lot on their plates. Regular challenges include providing quality care to each patient within a fully booked schedule; keeping up with medical record documentation; learning new systems; maintaining current awareness of regulations and laws; and navigating reimbursement issues. In addition, physicians spend a great deal of time educating patients and managing expectations for treatment, yet they still encounter the non-compliant, demanding or dissatisfied patient.
These circumstances can create a charged environment. Add into the mix a disagreement with a colleague, an unanticipated outcome in patient care, or a notice of a lawsuit, and the environment gets even hotter. Many providers have rushed to confess their shortcomings or criticize a colleague’s care (which can appear to be self-serving), only to learn later that the outcome was unrelated to the care given or, in the case of criticizing a colleague, that there were additional factors that influenced treatment choices. In the tense environment after an adverse outcome, providers may say things to patients or document opinions in the chart that are not objective and do not serve to promote patient care.