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Avoiding easy mistakes: Five medicolegal hazards for interns and SHOs

Last updated July 2013

Introduction

Why are medicolegal issues important?

As doctors, we all make mistakes – even an experienced surgeon can slip up. What is important is that you know how to respond to mistakes in the correct way. Many doctors are unsure about how medicine and law interact; this may reflect a lack of teaching in medical school or a lack of understanding of how medicolegal principles translate into practice.

Medicolegal principles underpin every move a clinician makes. In a climate where doctors have to justify their actions more and more to patients, colleagues and the Medical Council, an awareness of the medical law and guidance that relates to your practice is essential. Good doctors apply clinical knowledge in a way that is legally and ethically correct. They will also know when to consult senior colleagues and avoid working in a vacuum. Simple things like writing concise and accurate records, getting valid consent from patients and knowing when to seek advice can help you practise safely.

This booklet takes you through five of the top medicolegal hazards for doctors, and includes examples of how problems can arise in practice. If you need any further advice you can contact MPS online or by phone. This should help you go onto the wards more confident that you will be able to practise safely.

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