New legislation to strengthen patient safety welcome

21 August 2013
The passing of new legislation to strengthen Queensland's health complaints process for patients has been welcomed by medical law experts Maurice Blackburn Lawyers.

Queensland senior medical negligence lawyer Sarah Atkinson said too often patients and families fell through the cracks and faced significant difficulties to get their health complaints acted on.

"The implementation of stricter timeframes for investigations as part of this legislation is a welcome move for Queensland patients and their families," Mrs Atkinson said.

"Time and time again we deal with patients and families who lodge complaints and then face lengthy delays on hearing any outcome or action from these.

"We also welcome that the Ombudsman will have the ability to immediately suspend or place conditions on a health practitioner's registration if it is believed that practitioner poses any sort of risk while an investigation is underway.

"This has previously been a concern for patients and families - complaints of poor care are made after a clearly adverse outcome, yet the professional or service in question may remain in operation for other patients over long periods of time while an investigation is underway.

"Most practitioners do an excellent job, but as we've known for some time there is still a small group providing poor care that continue practising, something confirmed by a study earlier this year that found over an 11 year period in Australia only three per cent of doctors accounted for around 50 per cent of medical complaints lodged.

"Anything that can help to place greater scrutiny on our health system to better protect patients and improve safety is a good thing," she said.

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