Protecting your practice

THE tort law reforms of the early 2000s have failed to allay doctors’ concerns about litigation against them, despite the fact that claim numbers are dropping.

Doctors’ level of fear of being sued by their patients was highlighted in a recent study published in the Medical Journal of Australia.1

Lead author Dr Louise Nash, postgraduate course coordinator at the NSW Institute of Psychiatry, surveyed close to 3000 doctors on the perceived practice changes they have made as a result of medico-legal concerns.

The results showed that 40% of those surveyed said they would consider retiring early due to anxiety over legal action.

Dr Nash’s study also showed that concerns about medico-legal issues caused 33% of the doctors to consider giving up medicine, 32% to consider reducing work hours and 18% to feel more emotionally distant from patients.

One measure of their level of distress was that those doctors who had