It seems that anyone who criticises a doctor in Australia, even one who is unnecessarily killing people, is in for a pretty bad time – at least, according to the claims of Ms Toni Hoffman, the nurse who, for two years, was “blowing the whistle” on Jayant Patel, the doctor who, in the end was found to have unnecessarily killed up to 87 people, as set out in this article. A pretty bad time from State Premiers like Anna Bligh, from Ministers for Health, from the bureaucrats in Health Departments, from those in the management of hospitals, and, of course, from other doctors!
As a result, if anyone is looking for a good doctor to consult and/or use, it’s incredibly unlikely that we’ll find anything very official telling us that a particular doctor is not very good.
In NSW we have the Health Care Complaints Commission which receives hundred of complaints about doctors every year but finds less than about 8 times a year that a doctor hasn’t done a very good job – about 8 a year, out of 50,000 doctors! It’s pretty clear that Ms Jillian Skinner, the NSW Minister for Health has decided, “Eight a year. I can live with that.”
And, of course, there are ratings, but it’s hard to tell how much credibility they have – especially as the very worst doctors are likely to arrange for any poor ratings to be “drowned out” by ratings raving about how good they are!
As a result, we have to rely on pretty subtle clues as to which doctors are likely or unlikely to be best to consult and/or use.
We’re trying to make a science of these subtle clues.
Incidentally, the article mentioned above also claims that Maurice Blackburn Lawyers had initiated a claim for $500,000 on behalf of Ms Hoffman in December, 2011. Maurice Blackburn is starting to get a VERY bad reputation, and despite the extent to which they are spruiking that they have expertise in this area, we would be prepared to bet that Ms Hoffman is yet to receive a cent – more than 4 years later. We could write a letter and ask them, but in our experience it would be a waste of our valuable time – we’ve emailed them a number of letters over the years and they are yet to even acknowledge one of them, let alone provide a reply.