Good record keeping critical in appeal win

This was the highly welcomed message from a unanimous decision by the NSW Court of Appeal to overturn a judgement ordering GP Dr Emmanuel Varipatis (whose medical indemnifier is Avant) to pay a morbidly obese patient compensation for failing to refer him for bariatric surgery.

The Supreme Court compensation judgement had raised a question about the scope of a doctor’s duty of care when treating patients with medical problems related to lifestyle choices, particularly in cases where the patient was reluctant to follow their advice.

The answer to this question is reflected by Basten JA in the appeal judgement of April 18:

“A general practitioner may be obliged, in taking reasonable care for the health of a patient, to advise in unequivocal terms that weight loss is necessary to protect his or her health, to discuss the means