Have you ever wondered what type of medico-legal issues your
colleagues grapple with and require urgent advice on? Analysis of calls to our Medico-legal
Advisory Service (MLAS) highlights the common topics psychiatrists contact us
Last year, our advisory service received more than 14,000 calls
from specialist members – with over 1,000 of
those calls coming from psychiatrists. It’s unsurprising the service was rated
as our most highly valued service by members in our 2016 annual member survey.
Psychiatrists are second only to plastic surgeons as the
most frequent users of our advisory service, with seven calls for every 10 psychiatrist
members last year, increasing slightly (3%) compared with the previous years.^
Ruanne Brell, a Medico-legal Advisor with Avant’s MLAS, said
that given the nature of a psychiatrist’s practice, issues around complex and
demanding patients may be more prevalent for psychiatrists, hence their greater
need to seek advice.
are psychiatrists calling about?
Medico-legal issues around medical records are the most
common matter, accounting for 13% of calls from psychiatrists last year. This
was followed by complaints received by psychiatrists (11% of calls) and confidentiality
(10% of calls), respectively.
relationship calls on the rise
The topic responsible for driving the largest increase in
calls is patient relationships. The frequency of calls from psychiatrist
members on this matter increased 21%^. This category refers to the
complexities of the doctor-patient relationship which can include advice about patients
not complying with recommended treatment and how and when to terminate the
combined, matters regarding medical records, court documents and
confidentiality make up just over 20% of the reason psychiatrists call the MLAS
has always been a hot topic for doctors and complying with your privacy and
confidentiality obligations is essential.
members frequently call us to assess the medico-legal risk of a situation they are
facing. In our experience, if given the opportunity, psychiatrists will have often spoken to a mentor or
colleague for support and guidance and then call us for clarification of their
medico-legal obligations around the issue.
To help manage the difficult situations
psychiatrists may face, we have a wealth of useful information on our website.
Download our ‘When patients complain handbook’ for information on how to deal with and
resolve patient complaints or download our factsheet for tips on
how to manage difficult patients. Our factsheet ‘How to end the
doctor-patient relationship’ also provides practical information on how to terminate the
Doctors can find information on many of the issues
members call us about on our website. Our MLAS can be contacted via email email@example.com or if you require immediate advice, call 1800 128 268.
Our advisory line is staffed by a dedicated team of medical advisors,
solicitors and claims managers to provide members with personalised support – available
24/7 in emergencies. In response to the increased calls from members, we have expanded
our advisory service to have more experts dedicated to providing advice and
support across our state offices. They are part of the largest medico-legal
team of any MDO in Australia.
^The increase is
for 2016 over the average of the past three years.
What do you think is driving our MLAS call trends?
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comments and we would love to know what factors you think are responsible for
driving the call trends highlighted in this article. Contact the firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts.
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