Doctors fear being sued on inadequate care

DOCTORS at one of Victoria's busiest emergency departments fear they are so overwhelmed they'll be sued for inadequate care.

A senior doctor at the Austin Hospital in Heidelberg wrote to hospital chief executive Dr Brendan Murphy expressing frustration at how dangerous he said its emergency department had become for doctors and patients.

According to leaked documents obtained by a Fairfax newspaper, the doctor described finishing a shift in which several patients with life-threatening illnesses were left waiting too long.

They included a woman suspected of having a heart attack who left after waiting 6.5 hours.

The doctor said he had never seen things get so out of hand and dangerous as this year, particularly in recent months.

"I now approach the in-charge evening shifts with trepidation and I know I am not the only one. I know it is not safe and I fear for the lives of emergency department patients," he wrote.