February 21, 2019

Practice Checklists: If Surgeons Can Benefit, Why not Adjusters?

This week a number of articles emerged about how simple surgery checklists improve patient care, save lives and reduce adverse patient outcomes. (For starters, see http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1871759,00.html)

The idea is that before surgery, the surgical team as a group completes a checklist that includes
• Verifying the patient’s identity
• Confirming the site and type of surgery to be performed
• Confirming availability of backup blood supply “just in case”
• Post-surgery – accounting for ALL sponges used during the procedure

A recent study published by the New England Journal of medicine shows that the use of such checklists can cut patient mortality rates nearly in half and complications by over one third.

This has implications not only for medical malpractice risk management and claim defense, but may have broader implications for claims handling and management across the board.

For example, if surgeons can improve their own risk management practices by using checklists, perhaps a claim offices can as well. Does your claim office have as resources checklists readily available for of the claim staff, checklists that are customized to handling all of the various types of claims that come across you were desks?

Yes, I can anticipate retorts that good claims handling amounts to much more than just working from a punch list were a checklist. I also anticipate surgeons arguing that good medicine involves much more than simply working one’s way down a punch list or a checklist.

Fair enough. Nevertheless, as a framework for surgical practice or adjusting practice, perhaps there is a kernel if not more than just a kernel of a sound idea here.

How many client lapses were botched assignments might have been averted had the adjuster had access to and used a thorough checklist that encompassed all of the major contours of claim handling?

If it works for surgeons, why not for claims adjusters?

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