Members and clients will be aware the Legal Services Department has solicitors in our Adelaide and Sydney offices and the team supports members and clients nationally.
Like you, we are not at risk of running out of things to do!
The total number of matters reported to us for the 2019/2020 year was in excess of 5,700 and we are on track to exceed that for the 2020/2021 year.
The vast majority of the matters we assist members and clients with are those we call advisory where help and advice is needed. Many of these will not lead to a claim. We are conscious however of the stress, uncertainty and frustration they can cause.
Last year these comprised about 85% of the work and we manage this in-house. This is double the number of matters dealt with only eight years ago. This is not surprising given our growing client base and we hope is a testament to the service we offer as the word spreads about the value of contacting us.
Never be afraid to give us a call, email or lodge a query through our website to discuss an enquiry you have of a medico-legal nature arising from your practice. That is what we are here for and we want to help. We are dedicated to ensuring you receive prompt and accurate advice.
Apart from the need to have medical indemnity insurance to meet registration requirements (!) why else would you have this insurance? Most members and clients would respond “because I need it in case I get sued”.
The reality is this is quite unlikely. That said, we have noticed an increase in frequency of notifications in two key areas:
- Claims for compensation, and
- Legal expenses cover for Medicare matters and industrial/workplace disputes.
We are analysing the data around the increase in claims. In the last two years we have noticed an increase in frequency and also the cost of claims. We are analysing why, however a few reasons spring to mind:
- Patient expectations are higher now than ever before
- Demands by the community on medical practitioners are increasing
- Damages awards in the Courts are on the rise
- Legal costs are on the rise.
We also see a number of reasons for the increase in legal expenses in the areas of Medicare compliance processes and industrial/workplace disputes.
Medicare has undoubtedly increased its compliance activities to ensure it is only paying for what it considers MBS item numbers permit. This has a flow-on effect of notifications from members who have had Medicare knocking on their door (or who have received an unwelcome letter at the end of a long day).
Employer/employee relations and disputes over workplace issues also have noticeably increased. MIGA’s medical indemnity insurance and healthcare professional indemnity policies provide cover for expenses across a range of workplace disputes. These can include bullying and harassment, discrimination and allegations of breach of employment/contractual conditions which are more common now than ever before.
Members and clients are encouraged to contact us if there are any issues arising from your practice of medicine where we can help.
We are always by your side.
If in doubt give us a call.