Select country
Membership information
0800 561 9000
Medicolegal advice
0800 561 9090
Refine my search

Case study: Paediatrician’s conduct is called into question by patient’s parents

Post date: 26/06/2023 | Time to read article: 2 mins

The information within this article was correct at the time of publishing. Last updated 28/06/2023

Dr O’Hare contacted Medical Protection when she received a complaint from a patient’s parents regarding her conduct.

Dr Frances O’Hare* contacted Medical Protection when she received a complaint from a patient’s parents regarding her conduct. Dr O’Hare, a Consultant Community Paediatrician, had undertaken a safeguarding medical following a request from social services. She had never been the subject of a significant complaint before.

Her medical had concluded that further radiological investigations were required and arranged those with the local hospital. However, the parents alleged that she did not properly advise them of the nature of the medical nor investigations. They also alleged that Dr O’Hare accused them of physically assaulting their child. In their complaint letter, the parents threatened to refer Dr O’Hare to the GMC.

What happened next?

When she discussed it with her clinical lead, they suggested that Dr O’Hare contact her defence organisation. Dr O’Hare submitted an online request form to Medical Protection, asking for advice and support.

How Medical Protection helped

A case file was opened, and Dr O’Hare’s draft complaint response was reviewed. She was given advice to ensure that she provided a chronological account of her involvement in the patient’s care. The medicolegal consultant (MLC) reviewed the anonymised documents and met with Dr O’Hare to support her with reflections in this case. Their discussion focused particularly on reflection around the communication with the parents. Dr O’Hare also carefully explained that her role when undertaking a child protection medical is not to ascertain who is to blame, but to opine on whether the injuries could be non-accidental. 

Dr O’Hare’s complaint response, was combined with the Trust’s overall complaint response, and the MLC advised Dr O’Hare that she should request some amendments to the Trust’s letter, so that it more accurately reflected her position.  

Unfortunately, while the Trust response was being prepared, Dr O’Hare received correspondence from the GMC notifying her that they had received a complaint from the patient’s parents and were going to open an investigation. 

How did it end?

Fortunately, Dr O’Hare’s documentation in the medical records was comprehensive and her Responsible Officer had also provided the GMC with a copy of the drafted complaint response. The GMC were satisfied that the parent’s concerns were unfounded based on the contemporaneous medical records and any miscommunication had been addressed by Dr O’Hare’s reflections. 

Take aways

NHS Consultants often need support from Medical Protection to help them respond to complaints. In particular, identifying areas of reflection can be difficult when faced with concerns raised either by a patient or family. Medical Protection’s team are experienced in providing targeted advice on reflection and remediation. 

Medical Protection also provides support with GMC investigations; something which is not available through a Trust. In this case our advice on reflection and remediation was critical in ensuring that the case was closed at an early stage. However, should it be required, we also provide legal support throughout a GMC case. 

By Claire Harrison, Medicolegal Consultant at Medical Protection


Not a member already? Click here to join


*Names and locations have been changed to protect member confidentiality.









Share this article

New site feature tour

Introducing an improved
online experience

You'll notice a few things have changed on our website. After asking our members what they want in an online platform, we've made it easier to access our membership benefits and created a more personalised user experience.

Why not take our quick 60-second tour? We'll show you how it all works and it should only take a minute.

Take the tour Continue to site

Medicolegal advice
0800 561 9090
Membership information
0800 561 9000

Key contact details

Should you need to contact us, our phone numbers are always visible.

Personalise your search

We'll save your profession in the "I am a..." dropdown filter for next time.

Tour completed

Now you've seen all of the updated features, it's time for you to try them out.

Continue to site
Take again