Endocrine Abstracts (2017) 50 FUT2.3 | DOI: 10.1530/endoabs.50.FUT2.3

Medico-legal practice: what, why and how?

James Ahlquist


Southend Hospital, Westcliff on Sea, UK.


Lawyers need doctors. When the work of the legal profession leads into areas of clinical medicine it is important that expert clinicians are there to explain and advise on the clinical issues. A good clinician can give valuable advice to the parties involved, and can also assist the courts in reaching a just and equitable conclusion.

In endocrinology an expert is most commonly asked to advise in matters relating to an allegation of clinical negligence. Sometimes we are asked about breach of duty: ‘was the care provided of a reasonable standard?’ More commonly we are asked about causation: for example, ‘if a more timely referral had been made by the GP, would it have made a significant difference to the outcome?’ An expert may also be asked to assist in the Coroner’s Court, and occasionally in the Criminal Court. The clinical issues which come up reflect the whole range of practice in endocrinology and diabetes. An expert may choose to limit their involvement to certain topics where they have a particular expertise in their clinical work.

Working on clinical matters with high calibre lawyers can be challenging and stimulating. The clinical expert also has an opportunity to compare their own practice with that of other clinicians, and to have their opinions considered and scrutinised by their colleagues. Many find this a valuable educational experience and a unique form of peer review.

The demand for clinicians to be involved in legal work is increasing. In this session we will look at what is actually involved in medico-legal practice, and also the professional rewards and fulfilment that the work can bring.

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