How Medical Practitioners Manage Patient Concerns

For Australian medical practitioners to maintain a safe and professional workplace, they must respond professionally when a patient has a concern

Adverse events due to unsafe care is likely one of the 10 leading causes of death and disability in the world. Safe, professional responses by practitioners and their workplaces help us to keep current and future patients safe. Medical practitioners must always provide answers to the concerns patients raise because it will not only benefit their patients, reduce the risk to the practice  but also benefit the broader community. In general these types of actions will mitigate the risks:

  • Maintain professional knowledge and skills.
  • Practice within scope and competence.
  • Exercise sound judgement about work undertaken vs referred on, according to knowledge and skills.
  • Engage with the profession.
  • Participate in quality activities.
  • Be aware of and adhere to standards.

Tego Insurance has a few extra tips when dealing with a patient’s concerns 

  • Comply with regulatory and organisational requirements to respond to risk.
  • Recognize, reflect and respond to risks in their own practice.
  • Give priority to obligations for patient safety.
  • Initiate and actively participate in risk management within the practice / organisation
  • Change or limit practice, update knowledge or skills according to risk.
  • Engage with peers for support and assistance

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How to respond to increasing concerns of risk

When there are issues that need addressing, always recognise, reflect and respond to adverse events, errors and near misses. It is essential to respond with openness and priority for patient safety. If possible, participate in open disclosure and adverse event reporting. Plus, initiating and participating in quality activities is always a sign of having your community in mind.  It goes without saying to act to improve your practice and minimize risk of recurrence and probably most important, always reflect and then quickly respond to patient complaints. 

When concerns become notifications

There are several stages that notifications can go through when a concern becomes a notification from the National Board. But not every notification goes through all stages. In fact, most notifications are dealt with quickly at the initial assessment stage. The goal of the National Board is to identify as early as possible when they may need to take regulatory action to protect future patients. We must assess every notification. This involves deciding whether we need to trigger an investigation into a practitioner or not. 

The first thing we do is to confirm that the notification relates to:

  • a registered health practitioner (or student), and
  • is something that the National Law will let us consider. See possible outcomes to understand grounds.

We then work through the following steps, repeating them when necessary at each stage. We try to speak directly to the notifier and practitioner early in the process (unless we have decided we cannot do this) and it is important to us that notifiers and practitioners understand:

  • what they can expect from our notification process
  • the support available 
  • what is going to happen and when
  • how long something might take
  • what we might need from them or need to do and why, and
  • why does a National Board make the decision that it does. 

Let the team at Tego insurance help you mitigate your risks

We are an Australian medical indemnity insurance providers and cover your practice with medical indemnity insurance. If you are a health practitioner with Tego, we offer 24/7 medico-legal advice and support in regards to what you need to know about how to respond to a patient’s concerns

This publication is general in nature and is not comprehensive or constitutes legal or medical advice. You should seek legal, medical or other professional advice before relying on any content, and practice proper clinical decision making with regard to individual circumstances. Persons implementing any recommendations contained in this publication must exercise their own independent skill or judgment or seek appropriate professional advice relevant to their own particular practice. Compliance with any recommendations will not in any way guarantee discharge of the duty of care owed to patients and others coming into contact with the health professional or practice. Tego Insurance Pty Ltd is not responsible to you or anyone else for any loss suffered in connection with the use of this information.

All content on this page has been written in a generic way, and has not been presented with any knowledge of your personal objectives or financial needs.