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Press Release - 3 in 5 doctors fear reprisal over delayed referrals

28 May 2021

3 in 5 doctors in Malaysia (62%) are concerned about facing investigation if patients come to harm as a result of delayed referrals or non Covid-19 services being unavailable or limited, according to a survey by the Medical Protection Society (MPS).

MPS, the world’s leading protection organisation supporting more than 4,000 healthcare professionals in Malaysia and almost 300,000 globally, said it expects an increased number of medicolegal disputes, complaints and investigations where delayed referrals have seriously impacted on patients’ prognoses and outcomes due to circumstances beyond their doctors’ control.

MPS said doctors should ensure they have adequate indemnity arrangements in place should they need to request assistance with a range of medicolegal issues which may result from both public and private work.

This follows the move to make professional indemnity compulsory for all doctors who wish to have an Annual Practicing Certificate, whether they work in government or private healthcare facilities.

Dr Rob Hendry, Medical Director at MPS, said:

“Clearly many doctors feel vulnerable when it comes to delayed referrals or limited non Covid-19 service provision, and the potentially devastating impact on their patients through no fault of their own.

“The prospect of a poor outcome under these circumstances would be devastating for any patient, but the psychological impact on doctors would also be significant. On top of that, they face potential medicolegal disputes, complaints and investigations relating to situations they have had no control over.

“Medical indemnity was made compulsory in January 2021, so it is vital that doctors have adequate arrangements in place and are fully protected. The state protection is limited to clinical negligence claims arising from work in the public sector, and doctors may be unaware of its limitations.

“We are a not-for-profit membership organisation, not an insurance company, and our focus is on our long-term commitment to our members. Doctors who are concerned about their indemnity provision following the new compulsory indemnity requirements, can contact us to discuss the options. Our aim is to support doctors during this time.”

Additional information:

395 doctors in Malaysia contributed to the survey which was undertaken by MPS between 26 February-12 March 2021.

% of members surveyed with concerns

Question: How concerned are you about facing an employer, criminal or regulatory investigation for the following?


Following adverse patient outcomes resulting from delayed referrals or non Covid-19 state provided services being unavailable / limited


For refusing to work/see a patient due to not having adequate PPE, and the patient subsequently coming to harm


As a result of a clinical decision made while working outside of usual scope/experience/expertise/speciality/location


As a result of a clinical decision made while working in an extremely challenging, high-pressure environment


Following a missed or delayed non covid-19 diagnosis (e.g. cancer) due to constraints


Following a decision to withdraw or withhold life prolonging treatment such as ventilation



For further information, please contact [email protected] or +44 779 080 7722.

About Medical Protection

Medical Protection is a trading name of The Medical Protection Society Limited (“MPS”). MPS is the world’s leading protection organisation for doctors, dentists and healthcare professionals. We protect and support the professional interests of almost 300,000 members around the world. Membership provides access to expert advice and support and can also provide, depending on the type of membership required, the right to request indemnity for any complaints or claims arising from professional practice.

Our in-house experts assist with the wide range of legal and ethical problems that arise from professional practice. This can include clinical negligence claims, complaints, medical and dental council inquiries, legal and ethical dilemmas, disciplinary procedures, inquests and fatal accident inquiries.

Our philosophy is to support safe practice in medicine and dentistry by helping to avert problems in the first place. We do this by promoting risk management through our workshops, E-learning, clinical risk assessments, publications, conferences, lectures and presentations.

MPS is not an insurance company. All the benefits of membership of MPS are discretionary as set out in the Memorandum and Articles of Association.