We all know that clear two way communication with patients is an essential element of good medical practice. As doctors, we also face work and personal pressures which can make it challenging to maintain consistently good standards of communication with all our patients.
In 2017-18, the second biggest category of complaint to the Medical Council related to doctor patient communication. Even complaints about clinical care, which accounted for 50 percent of complaints about doctors, often involve a communication issue.
In this issue, we discuss patient privacy when talking to family members, patient communication strategies when there’s been a mistake, explaining the need for intimate physical examinations and how to communicate the end of a doctor-patient relationship. We also explore scenarios and strategies you might use to reduce the likelihood of a complaint against you arising from misunderstandings with patients.
In recent times, appropriate prescribing of s4D and s8 drugs has been an increasing public concern and the Medical Council has addressed this issue on various fronts, along with monitoring undertaken by the Ministry of Health. I strongly recommend that all practitioners review their prescribing of such medicatons and consider early specialist referral of patients requiring ongoing pain management.
As 2018 draws to a close, I encourage you to reflect on your professional practice during the year and how you might practise self-care in 2019 in order to best serve your patients. This could mean improving your work-life balance, seeing a GP regularly about your health and well-being, or taking steps to update your professional knowledge and skills.
On behalf of the Council, I wish all readers a safe and relaxing time over the coming festive season and especially those who work with us to support the high standards of medical care and patient safety in NSW.