This week the medical  and non-medical  media have been agog over this research article  in the 15 November MJA. Titled ‘Perceived practice change in Australian doctors as a result of medico-legal concerns’, it’s the survey responses of 2,999 Australian doctors. The findings are startling: due to the risk of medico-legal proceedings (i.e. being sued or complained about), 32% of responders are considering reducing their work hours, and 40% are considering early retirement. Naturally those who had personal experience of medico-legal proceedings were more likely to contemplate this action. Some 65% of the responders had such experience, with 14% having a current matter at the time of the survey. I’m one of this 14%. I have been since May 2008 . Also the fear of medico-legal proceedings is driving health care costs up: 43% of responders said they referred more patients, and 55% said they ordered more tests. I appreciate society needs checks and balances. But the current situation’s nothing short of abject madness. And it’s a vicious cycle: the more doctors who reduce or stop work due to medico-legal proceedings against them, the greater the pressure placed on the remaining doctors. And thus they’ll be at increased risk of having medico-legal proceedings brought against them. The solution? I don’t know. But reducing the involvement in medicine of politicians, bureaucrats and lawyers would be a great start. Will it happen? Don’t answer that – it’s a rhetorical question.
4 days ago