I recently attended the AvMA conference in the UK. AvMA is one of the UK’s peak bodies in medical negligence (or clinical negligence as they call it), law.
I would recommend the conference to anyone working in this area on the patient side. Although there are inevitable differences, there is considerable overlap and perhaps warning in some aspects, as to where we may head.
Ironically, while our Civil Liability legislation continues to cause confusion about the role and meaning of peer practice standards (hopefully addressed by the High Court soon, noting Sparks v Hobson‘s special leave application is soon to be heard), the UK has moved away from peer standards (Bolam) in relation to advice/explanation obligations, following its leading case of Montgomery. This essentially adopts our Rogers v Whitaker approach to advice/warning cases. Understandably, a reasonable chunk of the conference was grappling with this change.
The conference was an excellent blend of legal v medical talks.
Amongst the excellent medical presentations, I enjoyed a talk by a bariatric (metabolic) surgeon who seemed generally surprised when I discussed with him following his talk, the range of candidates now undergoing bariatric surgery in Australia for ‘lifestyle’ reasons.
As his talk well demonstrated, there are compelling population-based advantages of bariatric surgery in those with significant comorbidities, particularly diabetes. The “bad rap” this form of surgery has in Australia, at least amongst lawyers, is in this sense unfair. There are great public health benefits from such surgery, provided the appropriate patient population are selected. This is a big proviso…
Interestingly, he indicated that pre-surgery psychological workup, an essential part of appropriate practice in the UK, filtered out approximately 20% of candidates as unsuitable for such form of surgery. I would be interested to know whether this is similar to the rate in Australia.. My impression (no more than this) is that this very rarely leads to rejection of an offer of surgery.