New Medical Board framework important step for improving patient safety

29 November 2017
Maurice Blackburn Lawyers have today welcomed a new Medical Board framework outlining competency and ethical expectations for medical professionals as an important step for improving patient safety.

Maurice Blackburn Medical Negligence Principal Kathryn Booth said it was particularly welcome to see the framework outline measures to identity practitioners at risk of poor performance to ensure that patients were not put at unnecessary risk.

“The Medical Board has been clear in releasing this framework that medical practitioners with identified risk factors will be expected to demonstrate their ability to safely provide care for patients,” Ms Booth said.

“This is a significant and welcome step – one we believe is not only critical in helping to ensure that identified risks are acted on promptly to ensure patient safety is not compromised, but also so that patients can have confidence in the care being provided.

“We also welcome the framework’s proposal for a strengthened assessment and management of medical professionals who are the subject of multiple and sustained complaints, as well as greater guidance for practitioners to ensure that standards for good practice are clear and are met.

“In many of the claims we have been involved in, serious negligence that has a profound impact on a patient’s life and wellbeing.

“Unfortunately however this too often occurs because action has not been taken early enough in identifying poor practices and obvious risk factors – with poor performance continuing unchecked, despite patient safety being put at risk.

“In a number of instances we have seen clusters of claims against some doctors, an issue also acknowledged in the Medical Board’s Expert Advisory Group final report, which cited a major study showing that approximately 3 per cent of Australia’s medical workforce accounts for nearly 50% of all complaints made[1]

“Importantly this week’s framework also sets out that a revised Code of Conduct is to be looked at for doctors as well as new and revised registration standards, and we look forward to seeing further detail on this in ensuring there is greater clarity and consistency on registration standards in particular,” she said.

Further details regarding the Medical Board of Australia’s Professional Performance Framework are available here: http://www.medicalboard.gov.au/News/2017-11-28-media-release-professional-performance-framework.aspx

[1] Expert Advisory Group on revalidation Final Report, Medical Board of Australia, August 2017.

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