LEGAL QUESTIONS: Giving “phoney” care

January 2005 
Volume 35  Number 1
Pages 65 - 65
  PDF Version Available!


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    In the ICU where I work, one of the attending physicians is often slow to answer pages and doesn't show up daily to check on patients. He likes to work over the phone and relies on the nurses to page him when problems arise .

    Would I be liable if a patient were harmed because this physician didn't respond to a situation quickly or failed to follow through appropriately? With my patient load, I just don't have time to chase him down. Is documenting my attempts to contact him enough to show that I've done my part? —V.Z., MICH.

    Patient safety should be your main concern. If your patient is endangered because a practitioner fails to respond, you must find another practitioner who can meet his immediate needs. Simply paging the physician and documenting your page doesn't help the patient if no one shows up.

    Documentation of your attempts to reach this physician and his response (or lack ...

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