Concerns of Litigation Make Many Australian Doctors Consider Retiring Early

A recent study published in the Medical Journal of Australia has revealed that due to the fear of patients raising a legal action against them, many of doctors in Australia are considering compromising on their job tenure or working hours.

The findings of the study are based on the survey of around 3,000 doctors. It was found that about 65% of the doctors had faced circumstances in which due to legal cases associated with medical field, their behaviour towards work and patients became pessimistic.

Due to the fears of patients suing the doctor, 40% of the doctors mulled opting for an early retirement, while 32% had to think over decreasing their working hours. The survey also found that 18% of the GPs, specialists and trainees said that because of concerns regarding legal actions, they felt emotional detachment from their patients.

Louise M Nash, the lead author said, “Many Australian doctors perceive they make increased referrals and order tests due to concerns about medical negligence and complaints. However, there is considerably less impact on the prescribing of medications in Australia”.

The claims regarding the compensation and complaints to healthcare watchdogs were the most common forms of medicolegal cases.

The survey brought out that those doctors, who had already faced a lawsuit possessed greater chances to think every patient as plaintiff and thus making them avoid a specific invasive surgery and obstetric procedures. But, their experience with the legal action made them more aware about the risks and helped them up grading their skills.