Reducing medicolegal risk

MPS, the world’s leading protection organisation for doctors, dentists and healthcare professionals, has been offering the Cognitive Institute developed Clinical Communication Programme (CCP) to high-risk doctors around the world since 2001.

Mark Dinwoodie, Head of Member Education at MPS, talks about the recently published research on the results of the CCP and its implications for medical indemnity organisations and clinicians at risk. 

Who is able to access the Clinical Communication Programme (CCP) through MPS?

MPS has over 290 000 members in over 40 countries including the UK, Ireland, South Africa, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, the Caribbean and Bermuda, and Kenya.

A small number of members who we identify as being at significant future medicolegal risk, on the basis of their past case experience and where communication issues have been identified as being a major part of that risk, are required to undertake CCP.

Other doctors, whether members of MPS or not, may choose to undertake CCP to enhance their communication performance. We also offer CCP as a risk management product to healthcare organisations who may wish to support some of their staff doctors.

What do you think are the key strengths of the programme?  

The CCP is an intensive learner centred programme, delivered by experienced doctors, that gives participants the maximum chance of successfully implementing desired communication performance into their everyday practice.

The 3 day residential component enables participants to benefit from intensive support and coaching in a carefully created, non-judgemental and reflective educational climate.

Another benefit is the intensive facilitator to participant ratio (one to three) which allows a personalised approach to individual issues and challenges.

The CCP includes a variety of educational methods including analysis of real consultations, theoretical learning to enhance knowledge and understanding, exercises that challenge attitudes and skills rehearsal with actors as simulated patients.

What feedback do you receive from programme participants?

I think it’s perhaps unsurprising that a number of our members who have been required to attend the programme are disappointed to have been asked to do so. It is therefore all the more pleasing that the vast majority of participants who have undertaken the programme are extremely positive, reporting greater satisfaction in delivering healthcare, enhanced consultation skills and greater patient satisfaction.

On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being very useful, the average score of all the course components by all delegates is 8.7. 

You recently co-authored a paper examining the results of a study of identified high-risk MPS members that tracked their claims, pre-claim, regulatory and disciplinary events before and after completion of the CCP. The paper found that CCP significantly reduces a risk of being subject to complaint or claim. Were those results a surprise to you?

Having been a facilitator on the programme for nearly 10 years I have noticed huge benefits and changes in communication performance by many of the delegates.

The research behind the paper has provided some reassuring evidence that this enhanced performance does indeed result in a reduced likelihood of further complaint or claim for the majority of participants.

As Head of Member Education at MPS, how significant are the results of this study?

Very significant. I think the results show the benefit of remediation for those doctors who have experienced much higher levels of complaints and claims where issues around communication have been a contributory factor. There are benefits for the individual doctor, their patients, the organisations in which they work and MPS.

What do you think are the implications of these results for medical defence organisations globally?

I think it demonstrates that there is an opportunity for medical defence organisations to help reduce the risk of complaint and claim across a group of members who have experienced a higher number of complaints and claims.

Cognitive Institute is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Medical Protection Society.

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