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    British national guidelines and laws published by the British Orthopaedic Association and the new Coronovirus Act 2020 favoured treatment of trauma and orthopaedic conditions with non-operative alternatives.A survey was developed for both lawyers and trauma and orthopaedic clinicians to gauge their perceptions on guidelines related to protection of trauma and orthopaedic staff, and on prosecution with respect to future claims. Sixteen questions were designed for surgeons and 11 questions for lawyers. The level of experience and career stages were explored in other questions. A Likert scale (0-5) was used to capture these perceptions. Clinicians envisaged themselves being less protected (mean = 2.6), forecasted a rise in negligence claims (mean = 3.4) and perceived little additional beneficial indemnity influence from the NHS (mean = 1.8). Lawyers felt that public perception would have more influence in negligence claim rates (mean = 2.6) and disapproved of complete immunity for clinicians (mean = 0.5). Disparities between different trauma and orthopaedic grades demonstrated sentiments of comfort with redeployment, preparedness in non-orthopaedic training and protection from litigation. The results reflected the overall anxiety over litigation reprisal shared amongst trauma and orthopaedic staff. Issues with providing sub-optimal care can worsen this overall fear. Feeling unprotected from litigation reprisal can leave clinicians with an additional sense of emotional and professional burden. Redeployment into unfamiliar environments can leave senior clinicians in limbo in contrast to their juniors. Non-surgical options to treat orthopaedic conditions affect both patients and trauma and orthopaedic staff. Feedback from lawyers reassures trauma and orthopaedic clinicians that negligence claims should not rise due to the updated national guidelines.


    Shaikh S Seraj, Nikhil A Khadabadi, Anam Jawaid, Peter C Logan, Thomas S Moores, Fahad S Hossain. Covid-19: Exploring medico-legal perceptions amongst orthopaedic surgeons and lawyers. The Medico-legal journal. 2023 Jun;91(2):102-108

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    PMID: 36695024

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