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Q&A: Liability Prevention Training And Policies For Healthcare Workers

Healthcare professionals aren’t expected to hold law degrees. But liability prevention education and solid workplace policies can help avert document mistakes that could lead to privacy breaches, identity fraud or other legal issues. The Healthcare Professionals Section spoke with law professor Marshall B. Kapp, director of the Center for Innovative Collaboration in Medicine and Law at Florida State University, about the best ways for healthcare professionals to prevent liability concerns.

What are some of the liability concerns that Notary healthcare professionals should be aware of?

The one that comes to mind most readily is patient confidentiality and all it entails. The whole area of medical records and documentation of patient consent are areas in which office staff are highly involved, and some of the biggest liability concerns are related to privacy. Healthcare professionals can benefit from training on privacy to avoid potential risky behaviors. Also, more healthcare organizations need written policies for document handling that can affect privacy. The staff should be involved in reviewing these policies, and be retrained on a regular basis. Also, there should be training in the appropriate responses when policies do get breached.

Should training and workplace policies for office staff include issues related to notarization, like keeping journal records properly, avoiding the unauthorized practice of law, or state-specific rules affecting notarization?

Definitely. There should be training in journal security and protecting patient privacy, and that should include jurisdiction-specific information. Training to avoid unauthorized practice of law should also be a part of education for Notaries working in healthcare, because patients are likely to look to Notaries for advice, and the Notaries could certainly be put in a situation where they are asked to go beyond their expertise and authority.

Is it a good practice to have both Notaries and non-Notary employees in a healthcare setting trained about potential notarization issues?

Yes, all staff, not just Notaries, should be trained in proper notarization procedures. All members of a healthcare organization’s staff are part of a team. What Notaries do is important, and definitely erroneous behavior can pose a risk to the whole organization. The healthcare organization has a stake in making sure all its workers are properly informed, and each worker has a stake in individually protecting themselves from liability exposure.

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