Voluntary Continuing Education As A Defense

While most healthcare providers recognize that continuing education is a necessary part of their profession, some think of this as simply mandated by their employer or an obligatory formality. Others view it as a refresher course on skills and practices which one may not use often. Given medical technology’s potential for rapid change, it’s easy to see how keeping abreast of the advances could save a life. Conversely, not being familiar with the latest aspects could prove fatal to a patient. These are all good reasons to take continuing education seriously, both in a formal setting and in self-study.

What some may not consider is that doing so may also reduce your risk of liability in Medical Malpractice significantly. The physician, RN or surgical nurse who can demonstrate that they had current knowledge and information at the time will be in the best position to defend their actions if an unfortunate event should occur, causing harm to a patient. Consider it from a jury’s perspective. If healthcare providers haven’t done anything extra to stay abreast since they entered the field, the jury can interpret this as indifference to patient welfare. If, on the other hand, that healthcare provider attends educational seminars, subscribes to publications (and demonstrates a habit of reading them, being aware of their content,) etc. this will be seen as a healthcare professional who obviously takes the job seriously and truly cares for the well-being of the patients in their charge. Obviously, this defendant is far more likely to be given the benefit of the doubt, to be seen as responsible, and to be trusted as having done the best thing possible for that patient.

Since most malpractice cases are taken on a contingency basis, the attorney who sees such credentials is far less likely to pursue a malpractice suit in the first place, knowing that it’s likely the jury will side with the well-informed healthcare provider. Your voluntary efforts at continuing your education may help you avoid being sued in the first place, and will certainly be a factor in gaining a jury’s confidence, should a case arise. You owe it to yourself (as well as your patients) to make a habit of continuing your education. The case you save…

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