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School’s Open

Robert M. Blumm, MA, PA, DFAAPA, PA-C Emeritus

 

September is a month of new beginnings. For our Jewish colleagues and patients is the celebration of the new year; and for many of our students in the USA, a new year of development and opportunity in school. I was driving to my office on a Wednesday, the first week in September. When I arrived at my main street, I noticed students with bookbags, filled to the brim and ready for a new challenge.

Schools’ opening equates to increased traffic during our commutes, more vigilance when driving and an increase in patients in our offices and clinics due to contagious diseases. What are the ramifications for PAs and NPs? We will once again need to become more aware of our patients’ presentations, we need to stock up on diagnostic supplies and become familiar with a greater set of differential diagnosis as infections due to confined spaces and travel will be on the increase.

The goal for the students will be to start afresh and to try to excel in their scholastic endeavors. This represents a new opportunity to write a new page in their journey of life. For the healthcare professional, it creates the opportunity for increased conferences and learning new information and skills. What problems will we encounter and what diseases and situations will we need study in order to enhance our knowledge?

We will need to recognize the many signs of influenzas and use our diagnostic tests, prescription pads and influence, so that our patients are immunized early. We should be aware of the red flag signs of meningitis, a potential deadly disease. We will be treating hundreds of sore throats, viral illnesses, strep throats, sinusitis and the common cold. It is also a time to expand our examination and to discover those who have psychiatric illnesses such as severe stress as well as those that may have drug or alcohol addiction or who may suffer from sexual abuse. We can also be on the lookout for PTSD in this age group. Yes, these students may have been the victim of a fire, flood, the results of a hurricane, mudslide, rape, and loss of a loved one through violent circumstances.  What does the astute PA or NP do in order to perform as expected in this ever-evolving landscape?

Here are a few suggestions from a clinician with a long track record of patient care. Stay informed on the current problems and their treatment, as well as the need to refer when indicated. A missed referral can change a prognosis for a patient and create a catastrophe for the provider. Improve your technique of asking questions for your patient history. Perform the proper diagnostic exams and labs and radiological procedures and follow-up on them personally. Start obtaining a pharmaceutical profile on your patients if you have not done this previously. Lastly, consider your exposure to litigation and your options of insurance coverage for a potential medical disaster. This can befall anyone at anytime in their career, when they least expect it. Learn to distrust employer malpractice coverage, which is made to protect them more than you as a provider. Purchase a personal liability insurance policy from your professional organization’s endorsed option as this policy will have the highest rating and exists to protect your interest today and tomorrow.

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Is it recommended to have both malpractice insurance through our employer AND personal liability insurance?  If we have both, which would be used for the “medical disaster”?

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My personal opinion is yes. There are too many variables on employer insurance and too many gaps in coverage or ability to verify its status. It becomes like throwing the dice in a casino and you have worked too hard to attain your professional degree and at a high cost. The security of a personal liability insurance company is that you are issued a policy with your name on it. Our AAPA endorsed company, CM&F has a AA Best Superior rating and is not a new “fly by night company” but has been in existence for 71 years. You are thinking on the correct track. Bob

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