Winter 2007

Case Study: Take care with your signature...

Dr Quinn, was an intern on an orthopaedics term when she was approached by the de facto partner of one of the patients on the ward. The patient had undergone carpal tunnel surgery a few days earlier. The de facto asked Dr Quinn to sign a letter stating that the patient could not sign any documents because of her recent hand surgery. The intern dutifully completed the statement for the de facto.

A week later Dr Quinn was summoned to the Medical Superintendent's office. Apparently the de facto had used the intern's letter to withdraw all of the patient's savings from her bank account. The patient was extremely distressed and the police were investigating the matter. The patient had complained to the hospital about Dr Quinn's actions. The intern contacted her Insurer for advice. She was assisted in preparing a response to the hospital and the patient. This case provides a useful reminder of the importance of taking care of one's own signature!

These case histories are based on actual medical negligence claims, however certain facts have been omitted or changed by the author to ensure the anonymity of the parties involved.

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