Keep Your Distance from Patients, Doctors Advised

by Gopalan on  January 16, 2009 at 4:01 PM General Health News   - G J E 4
 Keep Your Distance from Patients, Doctors Advised
General Practitioners have been advised against walking the extra mile to please their patients. That could land them in trouble, Dr Jim Rodger, of the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland warned.

Writing in Summons, the defence union's magazine, he said GPs could end up in legal disputes by getting involved in areas outside their expertise.

His Union has dealt with cases of GPs giving in to demands for banned medicines such as the painkiller coproxamol which is linked with hundreds of suicides every year.

Doctors should keep a 'healthy emotional disengagement', Dr Rodger said and noted that they were being pressured to prescribe 'weird and wonderful' drugs that patients had seen on the internet.

Other GPs were said to be going to 'extraordinary lengths' to refer patients, such as hand-delivering letters after work or driving patients to appointments.

He also stressed that GPs should avoid giving help and advice to families in relation to such matters as 'powers of attorney, capacity or incapacity, or the validity of wills.'

"Becoming too closely involved in such matters risks legal proceedings, or getting embroiled in family disputes," he wrote.

Dr Rodger is a medico-legal adviser and head of professional services at the defence union, Telegraph reported.

He wrote: General practitioners, especially, develop close relationships with patients in both clinical and social terms. This is particularly so with patients who have serious or long-term illnesses. A natural increased level of compassion for people in difficult circumstances may blind the doctor to the risk of overly close involvement with matters that are not strictly clinical."

Getting drawn too far into a patient's life "beyond the surgery" can raise questions of competence - advising on how to tackle debt problems may be tempting but can result in a complaint if things go wrong, he said.

Dr Dean Marshall, Chairman of the British Medical Association's Scottish GP Committee said: "Patient care is always a doctors' first concern. GPs spend many years in training and develop good, trustworthy relationships with their patients.

"All doctors are personally accountable for their professional practice and must be prepared to justify their decisions and actions. It may be hard, in some cases, to avoid becoming over involved in a patient's problems as GPs tend to have a holistic overview, however, doctors should always abide by the rules set down by the General Medical Council."

Source: Medindia

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