At the 2017 AAEP Convention, Nina Mouledous, DVM, of the AVMA PLIT Trust, gave a comprehensive presentation on ways to minimize liability claims in a veterinary practice. She began by separating claims into professional (specific to a veterinarian) and business (practice owners). She said that although veterinarians are among the most highly regarded professionals, many are faced with allegations of malpractice at some point in their careers.
Mouledous defined “malpractice” as the failure of a professional person to use such reasonable skill and diligence as are ordinarily expected of careful, skilled and trustworthy persons in his or her profession. What other veterinarians would find reasonable is termed “Standard of Care.”
She continued by sharing that the most common situations that prompt claims include miscommunication, adverse events, unfortunate outcomes that did not follow negligence, accidental loss or injury to animals boarding at a facility, collection procedures, economic loss, human injury, and mistakes/errors (negligence). She said that minimizing claims often rests upon good communication with clients when an unfortunate outcome occurs.
In addition, she suggested that practicing good medicine, using enhanced communication skills, maintaining complete medical records and being careful to prevent injury to people can help veterinarians avoid malpractice claims.
Business owners have liability exposure beyond malpractice claims. To minimize these risks, the speaker recommended having appropriate insurance coverage to protect against claims for employee injuries, property damage, non-employee human injuries, business interruption, employment practices and injuries or loss of animals being kept at the property.
More information from AVMA PLIT can be found on their website.