Docs under investigation likely to self-harm

A survey of nearly 8000 UK doctors — one of the largest of its kind ever published — found those being investigated following a complaint had double the risk of suicidal ideation.

Researchers invited members of the British Medical Association to participate in a survey on the impact of complaints, receiving a response from 10,930 doctors (11% response rate), of whom 7926 answered all questions.

The survey followed revelations that 114 doctors had died between 2005 and 2013 while embroiled in “fitness to practice” cases before the UK General Medical Council (GMC).

The researchers found that nearly half of all doctors participating in the survey had faced a complaint in the past but they cautioned the figure may reflect ascertainment bias.

Those with recent or current complaints were two to three times more likely to report thoughts of self-harm or suicide than those with no experience of facing a patient complaint.