Death: 1 in 10 notifications to MIPS
An audit of all matters reported to MIPS over a five-week period in 2016 found that 11% of medico-legal queries related to circumstances surrounding a patient’s death.
Queries in this area were most likely to be from GPs (half of all the enquiries) whereas practitioners who were junior doctors or working in disciplines such as Emergency Medicine or Intensive Care, accounted for less than a quarter.
Almost half the notifications were around whether a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death could or should be issued by a practitioner and a fifth related to patient suicide.
The Coroner was frequently involved (68%) and in a quarter of the notifications from GPs there were concerns about clinical negligence. These included delayed diagnosis and prescribing errors. The incidence of suboptimal care was even more prevalent (60%) in cases involving GPs where the patient had committed suicide
In MIPS opinion this small audit suggests that further education in this area to students, junior doctors and GPs would be beneficial. MIPS offers a workshop ‘Death –the Final Complication’ workshop available upon request to hospitals and student societies that addresses many of the issues around issuing a death certificate.
Members seeking advice re death certification or with any concerns re patient management are encouraged to call our 24hr Clinico-Legal Support Line on 1800 061 113.