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Medical Council responds to doctors

28 November 2006

Medical Council responds to doctors concerned about patient safety during the laboratory strike

The Medical Council today responded to doctors concerned about the potentially very serious consequences for patients of the imminent strike affecting laboratory services.

Council chairperson, Professor John Campbell said the Council had been approached by a number of doctors who were concerned about their inability to provide safe care in the absence of necessary laboratory services and how best to meet their professional responsibilities in this situation.

"Doctors have an obligation to provide the best treatment possible for their patients that they can in the circumstances, but cannot be held responsible for the consequences of resource limitations.

"If full diagnostic testing of patients is unable to be undertaken, then this obviously poses problems in both diagnosis and management. This undoubtedly puts the patient at risk".

Professor Campbell says if a doctor has concerns or doubts about a patient's condition, especially if the patient's health is in danger, the doctor is justified is seeking the appropriate laboratory tests.

"The Council's advice is that the doctor should fully document his or her concerns in the patient's notes and discuss, where appropriate, any increased risk with the patient so that the patient is fully informed about what is happening and the implications of this.

"Doctors have a responsibility to try and provide the best standards of service possible with the resources available," said Professor Campbell.

The Council's Statement on safe practice in an environment of resource limitation outlines its expectations of doctors in these situations says Professor Campbell.

The Statement on safe practice in an environment of resource limitation can be downloaded at this link www.mcnz.org.nz/portals/0/Guidance/ethical%20guidelines%20doctors%20duti es.pdf

- ENDS -

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