Were you in hospital this Wednesday? Did you notice a difference? The first Wednesday in August is the day when newly qualified doctors are released into the world to practice in hospital for the first time. Whilst the idea of being treated by a nervous newcomer may not be that daunting – everyone has to start somewhere and these are highly qualified, well trained professionals with pre-qualification experience – it is now well accepted that the death rate in hospitals rises by 6% as new doctors arrive on the scenes and others move to their next rotation. Such is the notoriety of the event that it has been dubbed “Black Wednesday”.
The latest survey by the Medical Protection Society canvassed the views of those newly qualified clinicians. They expressed concerns about heavy workloads, long hours and lack of support. Poor communication was also cited as a reason for failings in the system. Three quarters of those spoken to felt they were unable to give sufficient time to each patient and one third were questioning their career choice, a sad situation after so many years of training.
From a legal perspective, the newly qualified doctor is expected to provide the same standard of care as the experienced consultant, there is no distinction when assessing the quality of treatment provided. Patients are entitled to be treated to an acceptable standard, not to any lesser standard where the treating clinician is inexperienced. Where the treatment required is beyond the experience of the doctor in attendance, more experienced input should be sought.
If you have suffered an unacceptable standard of medical treatment and wish to discuss it, please contact the Clarke Willmott clinical negligence team.