Patients now more likely to report complaints to media

Doctors believe that patients are more likely to go to the media with a complaint about their treatment compared to five years ago, an MDU survey shows.

A poll of 102 GPs and hospital doctors also showed two thirds believed dissatisfied that patients are more likely to threaten press involvement today. More than half of respondents believed doctors are portrayed negatively in the media, while 73% were concerned they would be misquoted in the press. 

However, the prime concern among doctors about media coverage was how patient confidentiality may be affected.

MDU medico-legal adviser Dr Yvonne McCombie said many doctors are anxious they may face ‘trial by media’. ‘We advised about 170 members last year on handling the media after patients or their relatives had gone to them with a complaint,' she said.

‘While this happens in just a fraction of the cases referred by members, when it does arise doctors are often concerned about how the media will report the story and its effect on their reputation, particularly as it is impossible for them to give their side of the story because of their duty of confidentiality.’

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