|Getting to grips with law and ethics|
|Thursday, 06 June 2013|
ASiT and the Medical Protection Society have teamed up to deliver a one-day conference on medicolegal skills for surgical trainees
Organised by the Medical Protection Society (MPS) and ASiT and held in September 2012, Getting to Grips with Law and Ethics was attended by over 100 delegates. It was the first medicolegal conference designed purely for surgical trainees.
Delegates included foundation, core and higher surgical trainees and those at post-CCT level. Many in the audience had a general surgical background, but subspecialties represented included orthopaedics, neurosurgery and O&G.
According to a pre-conference survey, one in four surgical trainees has been required to provide evidence to the coroner, and, of those, 75% didn’t feel prepared for the process. A significant number had also been involved in a clinical malpractice case, in some capacity, and with little support. Essentially, I wanted to gain confidence in thinking about and dealing with the sort of dilemmas that a young surgeon is likely to face during their career.
The day was split between didactic lectures from senior clinicians, including a keynote address by Professor Norman Williams, President of the RCSEng, panel discussions and small group workshops led by MPS medicolegal advisers. It certainly helped that most of the advisers originally came from surgical backgrounds and therefore had inside knowledge of working ‘at the coalface’.
Key themes in the workshops included consent, confidentiality and capacity. The workshops were particularly helpful to break up the day and for delegates to test each other on their grasp of medical law and ethics. Lectures covered a range of topics including adverse event management, surgical ethics and the now ubiquitous WHO surgical checklist. It was interesting to discover that the WHO checklist in itself has not entirely eliminated so-called ‘never events’. What seems more important is the manner in which the checklist is implemented, with surgical (consultant) leadership being key to its effectiveness. At a time of Twitter and Facebook misdemeanours, there was also a chance to discuss the perils of social media for surgeons and other health professionals.
At £40.00, the course was excellent value for money and a variety of formats, including workshops, panel discussions and lectures, ensured the day moved at a quick pace. I was impressed by the knowledge displayed by my fellow delegates and by the lengths to which surgical trainees will go to always provide exceptional clinical care.
There is no doubt that a firm understanding of medicolegal concepts is as important to the twenty-first century surgeon as attaining technical proficiency. One’s grasp of these issues could make all the difference between a satisfied patient and one who decides to make a complaint or take legal action.
Getting to Grips with Law and Ethics: