Providing Advice? (Here’s how the best doctors don’t get sued)

We provide advice. As EHS supervisors, directors, managers or technicians, part of our duty is to provide advice.

Medical doctors also advise. And they are sued regularly.

What can the EHS professional learn from doctors?

In multiple studies, researchers have found a correlation with doctors and lawsuits. And it’s not the doctor’s advice, their education, nor the provided quality of care. Lawsuits are correlated with communication.

In one study, by Wendy Levinson, MD; Debra L. Roter, DrPH; et al, doctors were split into two groups, those with two or more lawsuits and those without a lawsuit, and asked questions about patient care.

What did the researchers find?

Doctors without a single lawsuit more often educated their patients on what to expect concerning their care (called orientation). They also laughed more. The doctors facilitated discussions by asking for the patient’s opinion and checking for understanding throughout the process. The group without lawsuits also spent, on average, three additional minutes with patients.

And their patients didn’t sue. The doctors focused on the quality of the relationship and communication and in turn the patients felt good about their doctor.

Want to be a better EHS professional? Focus on your communication. Spend three more minutes with those you serve. And laugh.

It does make a difference.


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