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Our profession responded magnificently to the many challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, and while it is not over yet, it is time to change our focus and take a fresh look at our day-to-day practice.
Most of the issues where Avant assists its members relate to apparently minor events in patient care, which then get out of hand. Many of these can be prevented by putting in place a few simple rules of engagement.
Modern medical practice is in many ways a victim of its own success – as knowledge and technology have improved, demand has grown and so has the general public’s expectations of doctors and their care. Small issues regularly arise which can end up in front of the regulator. For 72% of Ahpra notifications there is no further action taken, suggesting the issues are relatively minor but they have a significant impact on both our members and their patients.
The cases included in this issue demonstrate how some small, day-to-day issues can escalate into big headaches for doctors and poor outcomes for patients.
Our first case is of a member being taken to court by a non-compliant patient when there was an adverse outcome. This case highlights how doctors can get caught up in legal matters and need our support, even when they are not at fault.
Pressure from patients may be a common occurrence but, coupled with a doctor’s instinct to help, can lead to problems. This is looked at in two cases, both of which, thankfully, had outcomes with minor impact but which could have been much worse.
It isn’t always clinical matters that cause doctors headaches. Administration matters, such as contracts and Medicare billings, are also common problem areas addressed in this edition.
Avant exists to support its members and I encourage you to contact us early for advice on how to deal with small issues, before they develop into something larger.
This issue of Connect reviews the big changes in private health insurance that have been taking place in the last couple of years. Peter Aroney, CEO of Doctors’ Health Fund, describes the impact the changes have had, including how consumers are tending towards higher quality products.
We want also to share the news of some of our exciting new initiatives. Avant is supporting a new technology created by one of our members, to assist hospital doctors to communicate with colleagues more efficiently. The myBeepr story is a great example of doctors creating their own solutions to improve healthcare, which we are proud to be part of.
Another partnership Avant recently formed is with doctors’ banking group, Kooyong. Here, they share their expertise on the property market with insights for investors and home buyers. The medical profession is unlike many careers, for example, working overtime and on-call, which complicates doctors’ finances. Our partnership with Kooyong is a way to help members focus on their work by reducing life’s admin.
Avant is a doctors’ organisation and I hope you find these articles useful for your professional and personal lives. Please share with us any comments you have on these topics.
Dr Beverley Rowbotham
Chair, Avant Mutual
Chair’s introduction – Back to usual practice
A stitch in time ...
Court vindicates doctor's patient management
Doctor faces tribunal for sharing patient's information
Reflection needed for a positive outcome
Diagnosis issues drive GPs' claims
Clinical decisions under pressure
What's colouring your thinking?
Common Medicare mistakes
Lessons from the pandemic
Phishing has gone viral
WhatsApp doc? Secure communication technology
Looking for a loan?
Assessing the consent process