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The Transformative Shift in Healthcare Compels Coaching

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Coaching Can Mitigate Physician Medical Liability Risk

Perhaps the best area to illustrate the importance of the physician-provider relationship is in medical liability claims.   Here, the physician’s communication skills are paramount to whether or not he or she will be sued.   In a study of malpractice settlements, awards and costs, 75-85 % were attributed to only 2–8 % of the internists, surgeons and obstetricians.11Why are a small minority of practitioners receiving such a large majority of malpractice suits?  Numerous studies demonstrate that a physician’s lack of communication skills, not involving a patient in his or her healthcare decisions and lack of interpersonal care of the patient are all characteristics of the physicians who repeatedly suffer multiple claims.12-14   The less satisfied the patient is with the physician’s interpersonal care, the more likely the patient is to initiate a suit.  Beckman et al., in a review of plaintiff’s depositions, showed that 71 % of malpractice claims were due to a break down in patient-physician communication.15   Physicians who communicate and have an effective rapport with their patients are less likely to be involved in a malpractice suit.  Similarly, trust is another patient determinant in the whether or not they will initiate a malpractice suit.

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