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Stopping errant advice

Article

My assistant dispenses advice liberally. While it's typically correct, I don't think she should be giving medical advice without my approval. What sort of guidelines should I set?

My assistant dispenses advice liberally. While it's typically correct, I don't think she should be giving medical advice without my approval. What sort of guidelines should I set?

"Only doctors are allowed to make a diagnosis and prescribe treatment," says Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Dr. Karl Salzsieder, JD, a lawyer and consultant with Salzsieder Consulting and Legal Service in Kelso, Wash. "And the doctor must have a doctor-client-patient relationship and, in most cases, must have seen the patient within the last year. This time frame may vary, however, depending on your state's laws and the medical condition."

The best approach: Let your assistant know that you're both liable for the medical advice she gives, Dr. Salzsieder says, though as the doctor, you'll be the primary one liable. To avoid any problems, you should approve all medical advice given to clients.

"There are some situations where the assistant may communicate your advice," Dr. Salzsieder says. "For example, if you've written instructions in the record or provided information about a certain diagnosis in a client handout, then the assistant may read that material. Even then, he or she should note what was said in the record."

Dr. Salzsieder provides one final piece of advice: If you're working with a new patient, no one should make a medical diagnosis or provide treatment over the phone. You haven't developed a doctor-client-patient relationship yet, he says.

Dr. Karl Salzsieder, JD

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