GPs should not blame patients for their own bad practise

Published: 21 Dec 2017

The Medical Protection Society (MPS) Survey of GPs, reported on today (21 December) in The Times, may be used to attempt to deny justice to patients harmed by negligent medical treatment, AvMA warns.

The survey claims that fear of legal action is impacting on the way GPs practise, encouraging them to behave more ‘defensively’ when ordering tests or making referrals. But AvMA says this behaviour, if true, demonstrates bad practise that should be addressed through training rather than by punishing the victims.

AvMA Chief Executive Peter Walsh said:

“Any decent society and decent doctor would want to see patients who have been harmed to be compensated without further barriers being put in their way. It is already very difficult to take forward a clinical negligence claim and it is becoming even harder.

“If people are denied access to justice not only is that unfair on them but it would make healthcare unsafe for many of us. Often it is only because someone was able to make a legal challenge that there is eventually recognition that mistakes were made. Many of the people we help only resort to legal action when there have been denials after denials.

“As for ‘defensive medicine’ most of us would prefer to be treated by a doctor prepared to go the extra mile if that could help us. If doctors are ordering tests or medication that could not help us or even harm us that is bad medicine not defensive medicine. They should be trained and dealt with appropriately. It is unfair to blame injured patients for their bad practise.”