World Patient Safety Day 2021: The 3C’s for Good Patient Care

In our efforts to support mental health and all those served by and working in the field of psychiatry, we are pleased to feature Donna Vanderpool, MBA, JD, PRMS Director of Risk Management, as one of our bloggers this month. Donna shares strategies that doctors can implement to provide good clinical care in honor of World Patient Day this September.

World Patient Safety Day 2021 is September 17th, and this year’s topic is safe maternal and newborn care.

Risk Managers like designated patient safety days because it gives us the opportunity to share our favorite strategies for providing good clinical care, which decreases professional liability risk.  My favorite strategies are what psychiatrists already do – collecting information, communicating, and carefully documenting (the 3 Cs).  These strategies can be applied to any clinical situation, including maternal health:

Collect Information:

  • From the patient.
  • Such as from the MGH Center for Women’s Mental Health website.


  • With other providers, such as the patient’s OB/GYN, as needed.
  • Never hesitate to seek consultation, whether by sending the patient for a formal consult or by seeking a consult with a colleague with expertise in this area.

Carefully Document:

  • Document your contemporaneous decision-making process noting what you decided to do and why, as well as what you considered but rejected and why.  That should satisfy the primary purpose of documentation – continuity of care – and will also help should your actions ever be questioned in court or by your licensing board.

The 3 Cs for treating patients with suicidal behavior include:

Collect information:

  • Consider obtaining past treatment records which, if nothing else, may provide a more nuanced picture of your patient.
  • Assess for suicide risk, preferably using a validated assessment tool, such as SAFE-T.
  • Stay professionally current by attending CME, reading journal articles, etc.


  • With the patient and with others, such as family members and other providers (therapists, covering colleagues, etc.)

Carefully Document:

  • Your suicide risk assessment.
  • Your decision-making process – what you did and why (e.g., medication changes, increase in frequency of visits, educating family on things to watch for), as well as what treatment option was not chosen and why (e.g., hospitalization was considered but patient rejected voluntarily admission and patient did not meet the criteria for involuntary hospitalization).

For more information on treating patients with suicidal behavior, see our webpage.

And as a final example, the 3 Cs when prescribing controlled substances include:

Collect Information:

  • About the patient – complete evaluation, checking the PDMP.
  • About the medications you prescribe.
  • About treatment / standard of care.
  • About abuse and diversion of controlled substances.


  • With the patient – ongoing monitoring, informed consent, office policies.
  • With others – other providers, possibly family members.

Carefully Document:

  • Your decision-making process.
  • Medications prescribed.
  • Informed consent.
  • Ongoing monitoring.

For more information, see our article, “Prescribing Controlled Substances: Managing the Risks”.

Hoping you and your patients remain safe!


To learn more about the superior psychiatry-specific insurance program and comprehensive services offered by PRMS, click here.

Authored by PRMS.