Doctor’s ‘mood’ likely to increase their risk of being sued

Australian doctors are more likely to be sued for medical negligence if they are unhappy, overworked, working in rural areas, or if they have suffered a recent injury or illness according to new research from the University of Melbourne.

Published today in the British Medical Journal, the Australian-first study also found that doctors with an “agreeable” personality were less likely to be sued.

The research team led by Dr Owen Bradfield and Professor Matthew Spittal, analysed the responses of over 12,000 Australian doctors to the Medicine in Australia Balancing Employment and Life (MABEL) survey between 2013 and 2018.

Doctors who completed the survey answered questions about their age, sex, specialty, personality, health, life satisfaction, working conditions, and whether they had previously been sued.

“This allowed us to analyse and correlate work, health and personality factors with a doctor’s risk of being sued,” Dr Bradfield said.

Just over five per cent of the doctors surveyed reported being named in a medical negligence claim during this period. The findings were more pronounced for male doctors than female.

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