The Olympic Games is fast approaching and more than 5,000 doctors have already offered their services as medical volunteers. However, as a recent Casebook article points out, not all doctors can apply to volunteer at the Games.
Photo by Peter KonneckeIn the article “Olympic Dilemmas” Dr Iain Barclay, Head of Medical Risk and Underwriting at MPS, explains why foundation doctors are not eligible to volunteer in a medical capacity at this year’s Olympic Games.
According to Dr Barclay, MPS has been approached by a number of foundation doctors who were hoping to volunteer. Unfortunately, owing to statutory restrictions, F1 and F2 grade doctors are unable to work at the Olympics as it is not an approved practice setting.
However, this does not mean that should a medical emergency arise that foundation doctors should not provide assistance by way of a good Samaritan act. A good Samaritan act is one where a doctor provides medical assistance in a bona fide medical emergency upon which they may chance, in a personal as opposed to a professional capacity. For a doctor attending the Games as a spectator, assisting a fellow spectator would be an example of a good Samaritan act.
What should you do?
When called into action while off duty, you must remember to:
- Only intervene if the situation is an emergency
- Assess your own competence in handling the situation – for eg, you may be under the influence of alcohol – and proceed accordingly
- Make a full clinical record after treatment, and give your contact details to the appropriate official.
There will be millions of people at the Games and any situation that would normally be beyond your competence may still benefit from your input, to a degree. For example, you can use your clinical skills to:
- Take a history
- Make an examination to reach a preliminary assessment
- Give an indication of the likely differential diagnosis and suggest options for the management of the situation pending arrival of support.
In the unlikely event that legal proceedings follow a good Samaritan act, MPS members are entitled to apply for assistance, no matter which country the legal proceedings are commenced in, this is important as many spectators will be drawn from around the world.
Whilst London 2012 is a once in a lifetime experience, the medicolegal risks remain the same as any other clinical encounter. By following the above advice, you will contribute to making the 2012 Olympics a safe and enjoyable event.
Read Olympics Dilemmas in the latest issue of Casebook.