Lead Article – October 2021

Lead Article – October 2021

Who’s in Charge of Medicolegal Report Quality Control?

I really don’t know!

Medical graduates in Australia are subject to registration requirements imposed by the Medical Board of Australia and its administrative arm, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, or AHPRA.  Practitioners have to register annually, it is not automatic, and there are hurdles to jump and hoops to pass through before registration is renewed.  Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is part of the regimen.

Similarly, those medical practitioners who undertake specialty programmes are also vetted carefully and are often subjected to annual examinations.  A final Fellowship examination is probably the toughest exam that they will ever do, and this also helps to ensure the quality of the service that they are providing.

Once a Member or a Fellow of a College, ongoing CPD requirements must be met.  Random audits are undertaken and my understanding is that an entire College complement would be audited every five years.

Subspecialty Associations also require Members to undergo CPD and this further ensures that practitioners are keeping up to date.

In the medicolegal arena however, entry is easy (and free), there is no guarantee that the medicolegal reporter is any good at the outset, training programmes do exist but attendance is not compulsory and finally, examinations are rarely set.

The American Board of Independent Medical Examiners (ABIME) does have a structured course programme with examination for membership, but enrolment is again entirely voluntary.  Many medicolegal reporters in Australia continue to practise without ever visiting a single training session.

Whilst the ultimate quality of reports is obvious to those of us who are in the trade, unsuspecting solicitors may not recognise a poor product when it is proffered.  This can lead to unnecessary, lengthy and costly litigation with a disappointing outcome.

Maybe it’s time we had a College in Australia that exercises some control over the quality of medicolegal reporting in our country.