Unfortunately, and thankfully very rarely, medical practitioners have to deal with an underlying concern about a colleague. Whether it concerns a one-off event, or a more general anxiety over time, it is a worrying position for a practitioner to be in.
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Dr M had exactly this concern. Working in a busy GP practice, he could see that another practitioner had a huge backlog and was not dealing well with the workload. He was concerned, first of all, for any effects on patient care, but also whether there was any duty on him to take action.
The doctor made contact with New Zealand Medical Professionals Insurance (NZMPI) for advice. His concern was passed on to one of their medico-legal experts, with a wealth of knowledge of medical law and practical steps to take to comply with the relevant health bodies’ guidelines.
Dr M was reassured that there was no duty on him to refer his colleague to a professional body in these circumstances. The only occasion he would have to do this would be if he held concerns about another practitioner’s health, and that this would impact upon the practitioner’s fitness to practice.
He was provided with practical steps to take to ensure that the management of the practice was aware of the issue and given options for tactfully addressing the problem. A realistic timeline was provided, and options were outlined in case there was no improvement to the situation. The strategy was backed up with reference to the relevant Medical Council guidelines. The doctor therefore had the confidence to raise the issue with the practice management.
The doctor had the backing of experienced lawyers in raising a potentially difficult issue with his colleagues in practice. He had the protection of having taken legal advice if the situation did not improve but, more importantly, he had been instrumental in ensuring the very best standard of care for patients.
Situations like this are why it pays to ensure that your medical indemnity insurance cover includes access to medico-legal support. If you’d like to learn more about these benefits, and others, get in touch with one of the experts at NZMPI today.