Is laughter the 
best medicine?

The use of humour is believed to have several positive psychological and physiological effects on health. Many doctors and patients believe it has a place in the consultation. Dr Rachel Birch, medicolegal adviser at Medical Protection, addresses this issue in more detail and presents a case where humour had unintended consequences. In recent years it…
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Fitness to fly

Dr Rachel Birch, Medical Protection medicolegal adviser, presents two case scenarios on requests for fitness to fly certificates, illustrating what locum GPs can do to support patients while minimising any potential risks. Case study – Fit to fly, we want some sunshine! Mr G, a 68 year old patient, came with his wife to see…
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Lost in translation

Medical Protection’s Dr Rachel Birch explores some of the risks involved in treating patients whose first language is not English. It is likely that we have all consulted with patients whose first language is not English. How often we do so will depend on the demographics of the practice population. There are potential risks, both…
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New GMC confidentiality guidance and sessional GPs

The GMC has revised its confidentiality guidance and came into force on 25 April 2017, and it's worth becoming familiar with these changes. The GMC has published a helpful summary of what is new in the guidance, and outlines the duty of confidentiality that GPs have to their patients but emphasises the wider duty to…
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Two-week referrals a cocktail for complaints

Time-dependent, stressful and often scary, 2-week referrals can be a cocktail for complaints. Dr Rachel Birch from MPS presents a roundup of useful advice on two week referrals for an all too regular clinical presentation. Many patients are likely to be aware of the NICE guidelines for the recognition and referral of suspected cancer. Certainly,…
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Avoiding pitfalls on home visits

Seeing unfamiliar patients on home visits from an unfamiliar practice in an unfamiliar area. What could go wrong? Dr Rachel Birch from the MPS gives some helpful advice. Dr S was working at a semi-rural practice for the morning. It was a busy Monday and there were a lot of home visit requests that day.…
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Referral risks

Dr V was working for three days as a locum in a busy general practice. She had not worked there before and the job was arranged at short notice. On her final day she saw a 35 year old mother of two who had just noticed a breast lump in the shower that morning. She…
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Holiday prescribing

Dr L was the duty doctor on call. She received a message from reception. Mrs A had been in and had asked for a repeat prescription for her warfarin tablets. She was only issued with a prescription for warfarin last week and the computer would not allow the receptionist to issue a further prescription. Also…
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Test results

MPS analysed data from 107 Clinical Risk Self Assessments (CRSAs) undertaken in practices in 2014. Risk associated with test results was found in 72% of practices, which was the sixth riskiest category, after confidentiality, prescribing, communication, health and safety and medical records. Locum GPs may be particularly concerned that they organise blood tests and x-rays…
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Unwelcome patient attention

Sessional GP and MPS medicolegal consultant Dr Rachel Birch shares a case scenario about a patient who stalked her GP  Dr L worked as a locum GP in Manchester, doing maternity and other long-term locum jobs within the city practices. Five years ago he saw a female patient, Miss X, with mental health symptoms. He…
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The importance of communication for locums

Every UK doctor will have to meet the professional standards set out in the GMC’s new Good Medical Practice. Charlotte Hudson outlines why good communication is particularly important for sessional GPs. In general practice communication has to extend to a wide range of people, so there are many opportunities for it to fail. Communication between…
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