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Office Policy Manual - Obsolete Is Just As Risky As Not Having One

Office policy and procedure manuals are recommended to the efficient operation of every medical practice. However, it is not unusual to find offices that do not have a manual, or that have a manual which has been inherited and is not necessarily relied on. Both situations are risky.

When performing Personal Risk Assessments (PRAs) for our insured physicians, one area we review is their office policy manual. We are looking to see if there are established polices on how to handle a variety of circumstances such as:  no shows/missed appointments, social media, terminating care, etc. It is not unusual to find an office does not have a manual or has a manual which has been inherited and is not necessarily relied on. Both situations, not having a policy manual or having a policy manual which is obsolete and/or not used, are risky. 

The office policy and procedure manual are recommended to the efficient operation of every medical practice. An office policy manual serves as a training, orientation and compliance guide for new employees as well as experienced staff members. It defines operational expectations and serves as a risk management tool that lowers liability exposure in the office while illustrating the desire for continuous improvement. Procedures themselves may not demonstrate compliance; however, well defined and documented processes do and they can be of help in a claim situation. It is important that the office policy manual be reviewed annually by staff members and updated as necessary. When you update your policies indicate the date the policy was updated on the lower right-hand corner of your policy and keep a copy of the original policy as part of your business records.

For your manual to be effective it must be kept current and shared with your entire staff. Above all, policies and procedures contained in your manual must be implemented and enforced. If your office policy manual is in need of any updates, be sure to check the PSIC Forms Library. The customizable forms have been vetted by the PSIC defense counsel and by our internal Compliance Department. 

Personal Risk Assessments are a value-added service we provide to PSIC policyholders in an effort to increase patient safety and quality of care by identifying areas of malpractice exposure in your practice. A risk assessment can increase understanding of the characteristics of a safe, risk aware culture. This free assessment provides our insureds with the opportunity to determine their risk tolerance level, to recognize and initiate safer care, to mitigate liability exposure and to encourage risk management conversations among staff and physicians to identify opportunities to improve patient safety. 

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