Why are medicolegal issues important?
It is a cruel reality of fate that everybody makes mistakes occasionally. It is not a question of “will I make a mistake?”, but a question of “when will I make a mistake?”
Given that you are bound to make mistakes, how can you try and lessen the chances, and how should you respond when the inevitable happens?
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 and colleagues, 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 Medical Protection online or by phone. This should help you go onto the wards more confident that you will be able to practise safely.