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Medical-legal lessons

From the CMPA files

Potential medical-legal risks for teams

Gavel and stethoscope on tableWhile teams deliver care, individual team members are responsible, accountable, and therefore potentially liable for their role in instances of patients suffering harm.

Individual team members must have and maintain adequate liability protection.

If teams are unable to answer the following questions they may pose significant clinical risk for patients and increased medical-legal risk for individual providers:

  • What are the anticipated health outcomes for the patient?
  • Is the patient an integral member of the team?
  • How will the team manage expectations of patients and respond to their concerns?
  • Are the roles and responsibilities of individual team members clearly defined, based on their scopes of practice and on each person's knowledge, skill, and ability?
  • Do all team members know their respective roles and the roles of the other team members?
  • How will decisions be made? Who is responsible — and accountable — for care delivery decisions?
  • Is a quality assurance mechanism being used to monitor the functioning of the team and health outcomes?
  • Is a policy and procedural framework in place to define and support the team?
  • Does the team have sufficient resources to achieve the desired health outcomes?
  • Who will coordinate care, manage the team, and ensure efficient and effective communication among team members and across teams?