Survey: 62% Of Malaysian Doctors Fear Reprisal Over Delayed Referrals

The Medical Protection Society expects an increased number of medicolegal disputes, complaints and investigations, where delayed referrals have seriously impacted patients’ prognoses and outcomes amid the Covid-19 epidemic.

KUALA LUMPUR, May 28 — Three in five doctors in Malaysia (62 per cent) are concerned about facing investigation if patients come to harm as a result of delayed referrals or non-Covid-19 services being unavailable or limited, according to a survey by the Medical Protection Society (MPS).

MPS, the world’s leading protection organisation supporting more than 4,000 health care professionals in Malaysia and almost 300,000 globally, said it expects an increased number of medicolegal disputes, complaints and investigations where delayed referrals have seriously impacted on patients’ prognoses and outcomes due to circumstances beyond their doctors’ control.

MPS said doctors should ensure they have adequate indemnity arrangements in place should they need to request assistance with a range of medicolegal issues which may result from both public and private work.

This follows the move to make professional indemnity compulsory for all doctors who wish to have an Annual Practicing Certificate, whether they work in government or private health care facilities.

“Clearly many doctors feel vulnerable when it comes to delayed referrals or limited non-Covid-19 service provision, and the potentially devastating impact on their patients through no fault of their own,” said Dr Rob Hendry Medical Director at MPS.

“The prospect of a poor outcome under these circumstances would be devastating for any patient, but the psychological impact on doctors would also be significant. On top of that, they face potential medicolegal disputes, complaints and investigations relating to situations they have had no control over.

“Medical indemnity was made compulsory in January 2021, so it is vital that doctors have adequate arrangements in place and are fully protected. The state protection is limited to clinical negligence claims arising from work in the public sector, and doctors may be unaware of its limitations.

“We are a not-for-profit membership organisation, not an insurance company, and our focus is on our long-term commitment to our members. Doctors who are concerned about their indemnity provision following the new compulsory indemnity requirements, can contact us to discuss the options. Our aim is to support doctors during this time.”

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