Spotlight on grey areas
Naga Nischal C
Catherine Tay, Shirley Ooi. Medico legal issues in emergency medicine and family practice. Singapore: McGraw Hill Education; 2008. Pp 168. ISBN: 0071265538A$ 25.
This book should be a part of induction for all doctors getting into emergency medicine, or any practice, so that they have a good start before diving into an”uncertain grey area”. The best things in life are simple. The brilliance of this book lies in its simplicity and the common scenarios which are easy to identify with.
The emergency room is a place of high uncertainty. The patients and scenarios can be as varied as they can get. This book can give the emergency physician clarity of thought in times of uncertainty, whens/he has to react within minutes and at odd hours. Though there are many variations in laws and cultures across the globe, a written guide about what is best to do in a given scenario is definitely handy.
The topics covered are not traditionally taught in medical schools (at least in India). The most vulnerable doctor facing such scenarios would be the least experienced. Hence it becomes imperative for newly graduated doctors to be equipped with the knowhow. In this era of litigation, it is important for doctors to be good at documentation and communication (again not taught well in medical schools). This book touches on those aspects which free every doctor to practise without the stress of being sued.
I especially liked the part of the book that talks about impending lawsuits. We need not think like lawyers, but we still need to be prepared for all possible questions about the case and have all the necessary supporting documentation. The book emphasises that the more the documentation, the less the chances of a lawsuit. Generally, basic life support training is given to all staff joining a major hospital. Yet most doctors are anxious about being legally liable for damage done when rendering emergency care to a patient. In another case scenario, the book makes the simple but often overlooked point that one should just follow the protocol.
The authors must be congratulated on their efforts to produce this simple and essential reference book which has turned the spotlight on troublesome areas in emergency medicine.