Photo by Eric ConstantineauAll doctors want to avoid making mistakes, but none more so than foundation doctors who are just starting out.
Knowing what to do when things go wrong – such as the unintended harm to a patient, or a complaint being made about you – is something that is not taught in medical school. The sooner you seek advice about an ethical or legal dilemma, the sooner the matter can be resolved.
The MPS can support you with any problems you may encounter now or later on. An article in New Doctor, “Collateral damage” points out the most common reasons why foundation doctors call MPS’s medicolegal helpline. In 2010 and 2011 820 calls were received from foundation doctors.
The main reason
The main reason foundation doctors called MPS during this time was to receive advice on inquests or fatal accident inquiries, with one in five calls relating to this. MPS can support foundation doctors by advising on draft reports to give to the coroner, which could also later be reviewed by an appointed educational/clinical supervisor. MPS may be able to assist by providing legal representation if there is a conflict of interest between a foundation doctor and their trust.
Other top queries
The second most common call related to complaints, and the third, the GMC regarding fitness to practise. Other top calls related to writing reports, employment issues and confidentiality.
Top three comedy calls
On occasions, foundation doctors will call MPS for advice on matters that are not ethical or legal dilemmas. Below are the top three comedy calls MPS has received:
- “I’ve just burnt the mess carpet!”
- “The library has issued me with a massive fine – can I fight it?”
- “Can we hire strippers for the rugby AGM?”
As a foundation doctor, it is comforting to know that should you encounter difficulties there are organisations available to provide support and expert advice, and educational material to prevent medicolegal problems in the future.
Read the full text of “Collateral damage” in the latest issue of New Doctor.