Back to School, Back to Risk Management Basics

You know it’s here – the ads for school supplies are relentless, and states and municipalities loudly tout their “tax holidays” for school-related items. But what does this have to do with the practice of psychiatry?

Those of you who treat children and adolescents may feel the greatest impact. As your patients move from elementary school to middle and high school, the complexity of their schedules increases geometrically. You and your office staff are no doubt getting more requests to juggle appointments to accommodate school and extra-curricular activities.

There’s a risk management point here. Constantly juggling schedules can increase the risk that important follow-ups are delayed or missed entirely, with adverse consequences for your ability to evaluate their progress, monitor their medications and renew prescriptions timely.

Another risk management challenge is presented by patients who are making the biggest move of their young lives – heading off to college. I have heard more than one psychiatrist say that this can be difficult not just for the student and his or her family, but for the student’s psychiatrist as well.

We have an excellent white paper on this topic, available under Risk Management articles on the My Program section of the website. Entitled “Treating College Students: Understanding the Risks,” this paper is a good refresher on what you already know about the mental health issues facing college students.

It goes further than that, however, focusing on the challenges you face if you continue to treat patients who will now be spending most of their time far from home. Please take the time to review the material, especially if this is the first time you’ve had a patient “graduate” from high school into college.

Also consider carefully the points we raise about the risk of inadvertently practicing without a license, if you have patients attending college in other states or countries.

As always, members of The Psychiatrists’ Program have free access to our Risk Management Consultation Service (RCMS). If you have questions about a particular situation in your practice, let us help you think it through.

For over a quarter of a century, PRMS, manager of The Psychiatrists’ Program, has provided innovative ways to protect physicians, improve patient care and provide high-quality insurance and risk management services. Our professionally educated staff of seasoned risk managers, claim examiners, and underwriters is available to service you throughout your career.

We designed The Psychiatrists’ Program specifically for psychiatrists and the risk they face.