Holidays Risky for Surgeons

30 Nov 2018

sara bird

by Dr Sara Bird

Two doctors in scrubs looking at paperwork

Do holidays pose a significant medico-legal risk for surgeons? 

Would you perform an elective procedure the day before you go on leave? 

These were two of the questions raised at a recent meeting where a medical negligence claim against a surgeon was considered.  

The doctors at the meeting, who had extensive experience in the assessment of claims, reflected that a common theme in surgical claims was the surgeon being on leave in the post-operative period. The surgeons at the meeting discussed possible strategies to mitigate the risks: 

  • avoid performing any major elective procedures several days before commencing a period of leave
  • notify patients of your upcoming leave and inform them who will be managing their post-operative care 
  • ensure each patient is discussed during your handover to a colleague
  • the colleague who is covering for you should be a surgeon of similar experience and known to you – after all, it’s your reputation that is on the line. 

How do you plan for and prepare your practice in the days leading up to a period of leave from work?

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.