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Inside… Mastering Your Risk

Sara Williams reports from Mastering Your Risk, a workshop from MPS Education and Risk Management that is available to MPS members in Ireland

What motivates patients to take action against their doctor? For most people, it is because they are dissatisfied with how their doctor has treated them. Studies have shown that most people have already chosen to take action before their doctor has even made an error. Evidence suggests that the likelihood of receiving complaints and claims may  be reduced through effective communication.

Background

Up until the early 1990s there was a simplistic view about preventing risk: if doctors were technically good they would be low risk. This is not true. Several studies turned this on its head by revealing that only 2-3% of patients who suffered negligence actually sued their doctor, and 70% of litigation is related to poor communication after an adverse event.

On the back of this research MPS launched a series of risk management workshops to teach doctors how to prevent complaints and claims by improving their interactions with patients and colleagues. I recently had the pleasure of attending the first workshop in this series: Mastering Your Risk.

Inside Mastering Your Risk

Dr Ruth Livingstone, the MPS facilitator for the day, brings with her 30 years’ experience working as a GP. She kicked off the first half of the three-hour workshop by exploring why patients sue their doctors. Interactive discussion ensued as the delegates heard real comments from patients about why they sued their doctors. The role of communication was debated as the delegates watched a video depicting a very poor consultation.

Lively debate dominated the latter part of the workshop, as the delegates learned how they can improve their interactions with patients and put their new-found knowledge into practice on each other. After a final session on risk-reduction strategies for medical teams, Dr Livingstone ended the workshop on a positive note, reminding delegates that by adopting a range of simple communication skills, their risk of being sued or complained about can be reduced. Her take-home message for delegates was simple: “People are reluctant to sue someone they like.”

Studies have shown that most people have already chosen to take action before their doctor has even made an error

Member comments

Don’t take our word for it; here are some comments from workshop attendees:

“The workshop was easy to grasp; it was very relevant to my day-to-day practice. I found it useful identifying risks from different angles – not just mine but the patient’s too. Learning how to address risks and reduce them makes a lot of sense, particularly for a junior doctor. My take-home message is to attend another workshop, as they are so interactive, practical and relevant.” 

Dr Yi-Yang Ng, GP in training

“This workshop has made me realise how important it is to create a good first impression. I’m going to change my opening lines in the future and use what the session has taught me in practice.”

Dr Florian Ruths, cognitive therapist and consultant psychiatrist
“Mastering Your Risk” is the first in a series of communication skills workshops provided by MPS. Other workshops currently available in the series are “Mastering Difficult Interactions with Patients”, “Mastering Adverse Outcomes” and “Mastering Professional Interactions”. Attendance at these workshops is free to all MPS members. For more information, including forthcoming dates, venues and online booking, please visit the workshops section of the website
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