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Patient complaints may be harmful to GPs' health and practice

(General practitioners' experiences of patients' complaints: qualitative study)

(Learning from complaints about general practitioners)

General practitioners (GPs) find patients' complaints stressful and the increase in their number is leading to more defensive clinical practice, say researchers in this week's BMJ. Dr Ashok Jain and Dr Jane Ogden from Kings College, London report the findings of their qualitative study of 30 GPS from South East London who had had complaints made against them.

They found that the doctors they studied experienced feelings of shock, panic and a sense of being out of control followed by anger, depression and even suicide. Some began to doubt their own clinical competence and experienced conflicts with their families and colleagues, say the authors. This led to many doctors practicing defensively and for others it meant planning to leave general practice.

Jain and Ogden conclude that the initial impact of a complaint and the conflicts arising are distressing for GPs, with the resolution often being unsatisfactory. They say that research indicates that many GPs experience psychological problems such as burnout, depression and marital breakdowns and that support structures should be put in place to help GPs when they experience such problems.

Also see linked editorial by Dr Richard Baker.


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Contact: Jill Shepherd
jshepherd@bma.org.uk
44-171-383-6512
BMJ-British Medical Journal
11-Jun-1999


Page: 1

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