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Communication may improve patient outcomes

A dermatologist that practices in New Jersey or anywhere else in America may reduce his or her odds of being sued by communicating well with patients. Overall, male dermatologists were 2.5 times more likely to face a lawsuit than females in the same field. Since females tend to be better communicators, they also tend to be the subject of lawsuits less frequently than male dermatologists are. This data comes from research published in JAMA Dermatology that analyzed a total of 90,743 closed claims.

Out of the total number of claims, 1,084 were against dermatologists while the rest were against other types of medical professionals. By actively communicating with patients, female dermatologists delivered patient-centered care, which involves listening to patient input and being encouraging and reassuring of their needs. Always providing this type of treatment may increase patient outcomes and satisfaction, and the researchers note that medical professionals of both sexes can provide this type of care.

However, a Medscape survey found that 81 percent of physicians felt that apologizing would not help. This attitude was prevalent among males and females. It is important to note that just because a dermatologist has been sued does not mean that a judgment will be rendered against that person. According to the study, 68 percent of claims were either withdrawn, dismissed or abandoned. Lawsuits were commonly related to misdiagnoses or from errors that occurred during skin procedures.

A medical error when diagnosing a patient or during a procedure may lead to his or her poor health. Health issues may make it harder for someone to experience the quality of life to which he or she was accustomed before the error occurred. Those who have been impacted by a doctor's mistake may be entitled to compensation, which may help to pay medical bills or other costs related to a doctor's negligent actions.

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