According to an analysis of complaints in the latest edition of inpractice, the Medical Defense Union's journal that appears twice a year and is aimed at GP practice manager members covering topics like complaints, RCN indemnity changes and dealing with estranged parents, over 90% of 2,410 complaints made by GP members in the year April 2009/2010 seem to have been resolved locally. According to the MDU, this quota represents a great achievement made by practice managers who frequently take a lead in managing complaints.
The findings also demonstrate that the most frequent reasons of complaints filed against GPs consisted of 32% (776) delayed diagnosis, with 16% (375) complaints related to GPs communication skills or attitude.
MDU medico-legal adviser and medical editor of inpractice, Dr Beverley Ward, commented:
"Receiving a complaint can be daunting for anyone in general practice. It is positive to see that such a high number of complaints notified to the MDU have been resolved locally and credit should be given to those in a practice who have managed those complaints.
Understanding the main causes of complaints helps the practice put in place improvements - such as training or changes to practice procedure - that may avoid the incidence of complaints in the future".
The latest edition of inpractice also features a guide on how to deal with requests from estranged parents to view their child's medical record. Given that 33% of UK marriages in 1995 ended in divorce by 2010, the chances that practices will face requests like this are higher than ever, and can in some instances lead to difficult situations. To ensure the protection of patient confidentiality, it is vital that all GPs or practice managers know what needs to be considered prior to allowing a parent access to their child's medical record.
The journal also features a report that highlights RCNs changes of their indemnity scheme, together with its implications for RCN members in general practice, after MDU telephone help lines received a tremendous number of enquiries from concerned GPs, practice managers and practice nurses. The MDU provides advice to all categories of nurses on their indemnity options, given that nurse practitioners and nurses in an extended role are particularly affected by the change.
In addition, inpractice also features an article by MDU medico-legal adviser Dr Sally Old, in which she explains how cases of mistaken identity amongst patients with similar names in the practice can be avoided.
Dr Beverley Ward concludes:
"inpractice covers a wide range of issues of interest to our practice manager members. We hope that the journal will also be a useful resource on medico-legal matters for all of our primary care members."
Written by Petra Rattue