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Professional indemnity for health care practitioners

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Australian Health Ministers' Conference

Adelaide, 26 March 1991



Australian Health Ministers today agreed that the Commonwealth should examine ways to improve arrangements for dealing with misadventure from health services.

Chairman of the Health Ministers' conference and SA Health Minister, Dr Don Hopgood, said ministers believed the changes were desirable because the current provisions were causing problems for patients, health care practitioners and

governments. For example, patients suffering adverse effects of medical and other health treatment are more likely now to seek damages.

This is leading to doctors practising defensive medicine, such as ordering more pathology and other tests than previously to be doubly sure they have not missed something.

The ministers said that doctors believed this would protect them in the event of litigation, but the behaviour added unnecessarily to the costs of health care.

The ministers said patients also face uncertainties because they have to prove negligence before receiving compensation.

Because many health care practitioners carry no insurance, there is no guarantee that a patient awarded damages will actually receive compensation.

This work will build on that already undertaken by the South Australian Task Force on Patients' Rights and other related initiatives.

For more information: Marilyn Chalkley Tony Nagy AHMC Secretariat (08) 210 6782