A New Podcast by COPIC

by Gerald Zarlengo, MD, Chairman & CEO COPIC Insurance Company

COPIC has launched a podcast called “Within Normal Limits: Navigating Medical Risks.” Hosted by Dr. Eric Zacharias, an internal medicine specialist and COPIC physician risk manager, the podcast provides a new way for us to connect with physicians and medical professionals and share our insights. Each episode is brief (around 20 minutes) and focuses on honest, open conversations between Dr. Zacharias and other medical experts/physicians about current challenges in health care.

Here are some of the episodes we have released so far:

Episode 1: Med Mal 101 - Hearts, Bellies, and Bugs

Our first episode draws upon decades of medical liability experience to distill down the key areas where we consistently see malpractice lawsuits—heads (neurologic), hearts (chest pain), bellies (abdominal pain), and bugs (infections). We examine why physicians sometimes misdiagnose symptoms that seem obvious in hindsight, but in actual practice, are not so simple. Our guest is Dr. Dennis Boyle, a rheumatologist and physician risk manager with COPIC. Dr. Boyle and Dr. Zacharias walk through some sample scenarios and offer guidance on how to avoid common risks while enhancing patient safety.

Episode 3: Sepsis - Bad Infection That Can Get Worse

Sepsis is a common syndrome, and although our knowledge of how to treat it has improved significantly, this bacterial infection can be lethal if not caught early. Dr. Susan Sgambati, a colorectal surgeon and COPIC’s medical director, joins Dr. Zacharias to review some sepsis case studies and discuss why early recognition is critical, the value of clinical judgement and vital signs, and how pain out of proportion to what you are seeing can be a key indicator.

Episode 4: Informed Consent - The Joy (and Pain) of Shared Decisions

Informed consent shouldn’t be viewed as just an obligation to get a signed form, but rather, an opportunity to engage patients in shared decision-making. Dr. Jeffrey Varnell, a surgeon and COPIC physician risk manager, joins Dr. Zacharias to talk about the process of disclosing essential information during the informed consent process so that patients understand the recommended treatment and indications, risks, benefits, alternatives, and risks of not proceeding. In addition, they review the importance of not delegating this process to those who aren’t performing the procedure, and assessing a patient’s understanding.

Episode 6: Burnout from COVID-19: Moving Forward with Resilience

While burnout is a long-standing issue in health care, the compounded impact of COVID-19 has heightened its prevalence and the importance of efforts to address the well-being of medical providers. In this episode, Dr. Zacharias talks to one of COPIC’s experts on physician burnout, Dr. Dennis Boyle. They dissect the root causes of burnout and three key parameters to consider—depersonalization, emotional exhaustion, and feelings of low accomplishment. They also look at other influential factors, such as EHRs, workplace culture, and personality traits as well as the omnipresence of grief in health care. In addition, they talk about how the trend of prescribing “simple mindfulness” can be a challenging practice to put into action, and what steps can be taken to effectively approach this.

Episode 7: Navigating Conversations with Patients About Guns

Some providers may draw a strict boundary about discussing guns with their patients (or not think about it). But research has shown there are situations when access to firearms is a potential risk factor and raising this issue can be not only appropriate but necessary. Dr. Michael Victoroff, who is a firearms safety expert, addresses some scenarios associated with guns that can arise in the clinical setting. These range from imminent danger (e.g., suicide risk) to general considerations that vary from household to household (e.g., storage methods). Dr. Victoroff offers guidance on how to approach this topic with non-confrontational questions and suggestions for credible resources for health care providers.

“Within Normal Limits” is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Amazon. You can also visit our website at www.callcopic.com/wnlpodcast for more information. New episodes will be posted throughout the year, so we encourage you to subscribe. It’s another example of how COPIC continues to look forward, push innovative ideas, and put our mission of “improving medicine in the communities we serve” into action. ■

Categories: Communications, Colorado Medicine, COPIC Comment