Thursday, August 7, 2008

All doctors will face annual competence tests to protect patients' lives

Oh. Sorry. I may have encouraged readers prematurely.
This is happening in the UK – not the US. I am so proud of the home land of my peeps. The concept has a beautiful ring to it . . . "protect patients' safety"

Perhaps there is hope.


From Mail Online
By Daniel Martin (Last updated at 11:35 PM on 23rd July 2008)

Doctors are to undergo tough annual reviews to force out poor performers.

All NHS trusts will have to appraise their doctors every year to ensure they are fit to offer safe care.

Those judged to be 'unable to remedy significant shortfalls in their standards to practice could be struck off the medical register.

Patients' opinions will also be part of the appraisal.

They will be asked if they have any concerns, such as if a doctor does not explain things properly or does not listen, whether they feel involved in decisions about their treatment and whether they are treated with dignity and respect.

The changes are being brought in following blistering criticism of the medical profession during the 2004 inquiry into how Dr Harold Shipman was able to murder more than 200 patients over 23 years without being detected.

It concluded that the General Medical Council, the doctors' regulatory body, had been more concerned with looking after doctors' interests than with protecting patients.

But doctors' leaders warned last night that the new rules would not have caught Shipman.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the British Medical Association, said: 'We hope Harold Shipman was a one-off terrible person.

'He was a criminal, he wasn't necessarily a badly-performing doctor in the sense of his clinical practice, but he was a murderer. We are not really devising a system purely to pick up murderers, we are trying to do a system that for the majority of doctors helps them to improve their practice.'

The changes were outlined in a report by chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson, who said the 'current NHS appraisal is patchy and not fit for re-licensing across the country as a whole'.

His plan is that the annual appraisals will feed into five-yearly reassessments of whether doctors should remain on the register.

The annual reviews will also cover their prescribing habits and personal issues that might affect the quality of their work, such as drug or alcohol abuse.

Doctors will be tested on whether they are up to date with medical advances, and feedback from colleagues will also be taken into account.

Sir Liam said: 'I'm confident that this process, agreed with doctors' representatives, will help raise standards of medical practice and improve the quality of the patient experience.'

But doctors' leaders said there was a danger the plans could lead to doctors spending less time with patients or being less likely to carry out risky procedures.

Dr Meldrum said: 'It has to be proportionate. We cannot have doctors spending hours and days on end both preparing for and undergoing this. Equally, patients want to be reassured and doctors want to reassure patients that they are keeping up to date.'

Great idea, UK. We will be watching and praying for your honorable efforts.

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