Legal Tips
Provided by Carolyn Buppert, MSN, JD, ANP

Revisit an unresolved problem.

Example: A 30-year-old woman visited an NP and complained of rash on her right breast. The NP diagnosed mastitis, prescribed antibiotics, and told the patient to see a dermatologist if the symptoms did not resolve in three weeks. The patient never saw a dermatologist. The patient did return to the NP. However, on the return visits to the NP, the patient did not complain of the breast rash, and the NP did not ask about it. Ten months later, the patient returned to the NP with breast lumps. The rash was still there, but much worse. Diagnosis: Paget's disease. The patient died one year after the initial visit to the NP. The patient's family sued the NP.

The moral of the story: Revisit any problems until resolved.

Practice pointers: At each visit, review the note from the last visit and revisit the previous complaints. Better yet, maintain a problem list, and revisit each problem until resolved. When you refer a patient to a specialist, follow up to see whether the patient actually went through with the referral.

This tip is excerpted from The Gold Sheet, a monthly newsletter published by the Law Office of Carolyn Buppert. The Gold Sheet covers the latest news on quality for NPs. For a 12-month subscription, send a check for $25 to The Gold Sheet, Law Office of Carolyn Buppert, 1419 Forest Drive, Suite 205, Annapolis, MD 21403. A companion newsletter, The Green Sheet, offers the latest information on NP compensation and reimbursement.

Updated May 11, 1999


NP Central
10024 S.E. 240th St., Suite #102, Kent, WA 98031
Phone: 253.852.9042 Fax: 253.852.7725
NP Central Gateway

Use of this section indicates you agree to the Terms of Use.
Copyright 1994-2003 NP Central