What’s the Worst Thing You Can Do As a Doctor?

03 Nov 2016

Julian Walter 110x137

by Dr Julian Walter

Worried young doctor looks exhausted

Junior doctors often ask us what the worst thing is that a doctor could do in terms of complaints, claims and disciplinary matters. Our response, while disarmingly simple, is often unexpected …


Yes, you heard it right. Not failure to obtain consent. Not even poor record keeping, poor communication or sex with your patients. While these bastions of medical defence are important, doctors who lie discredit not only themselves, but also breach their obligations under the Medical Board Code of Conduct, and potentially commit a criminal offence if the trail of lies follows them into a hearing. Honesty features six times in the Code of Conduct and is a cornerstone of our professionalism.

Read what happens when a Tribunal hears that a doctor deliberately deleted records and rewrote them after a complaint was made, untruthfully presenting them to AHPRA as contemporaneous notes so as to mislead. Dishonesty converted what might have been a minor complaint investigation into grounds for immediate suspension. As the Tribunal noted: “…the practitioner’s effrontery in making such submissions was simply breathtaking.”

Honesty really is always the best policy.

This blog contains general information only. We recommend you contact your medical defence organisation or insurer when you require specific advice in relation to medico-legal matters.



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