The Medical Council recently published a review of complaints received between 2008 and 2012. Over 2000 complaints were received during this time. The key findings from the Medical Council’s review are:
- During this period, there was a 46% increase in the number of complaints received and a doctor’s chance of being complained rose to approximately one in 37. The review also showed that doctors subject to one complaint were more likely to face further complaints.
- 86% of complaints were made by members of the public and only 3% came from the HSE or other healthcare organisations.
- Male doctors are twice as likely to have a complaint made against them as female doctors.
- Approximately one in ten complaints resulted in a Fitness-to-Practise Inquiry, 68% of which resulted in findings being made against the doctor and sanctions being imposed.
- Sanctions affecting the doctor’s registration were more common for internationally-qualified doctors than for doctors who qualified in Ireland.
While questions of medical knowledge and skill featured prominently in complaints, the Medical Council reported that the complaints were often motivated by a poor performance of doctors' attitudes and behaviours, including communication with patients, caring with compassion and empathy, treating patients with dignity and respect and relating effectively with patients and families. The practice areas facing the most complaints included psychiatry, cosmetic surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology and locum / out of hours work.
The Medical Council has also published its draft Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics for Registered Medical Practitioners which will be finalised after feedback from doctors, the public and other bodies. An update on this will be published shortly.