Book review: The Geriatrician in Court

Dr Shane O’Hanlon is a consultant geriatrician and Honorary Secretary of the BGS. He holds a law degree and has a special interest in medicolegal matters. He tweets @drohanlon

Most doctors spend their career hoping never to see the inside of a courtroom! While geriatricians are probably among the most rarely sued specialists, we can still have quite frequent involvement with the law – the Coroner’s Court is a good example. There is also an increasing amount of medicolegal work related to dementia, deprivation of liberty safeguards and mental capacity. In this environment there has been a gap in the market for a book that focuses specifically on our needs, but retired geriatrician Dr Geoffrey Phillips is at hand with help.

The Geriatrician in Court” is a handbook of “how to do it” based upon his thirty years of experience in preparing medico-legal reports and attending court to give expert evidence. The book covers all the main topics over the course of 226 pages. It begins with an outline of the legal system, criminal versus civil law, negligence and burden of proof. Important areas such as mental capacity, testamentary capacity, abuse, medical error and resuscitation all feature. Continue reading

Spring Speakers Series: Coroner’s Inquest

Mr Leslie Hamilton recently took early retirement (pressure of the on-call transplant rota) as a cardiac surgeon but continues to sit as Assistant Coroner. He is currently on the Council of the Royal College of Surgeons and is a past President of SCTS (Society for C/Th Surgery). He will be Chairing a special workshop at the BGS Spring Meeting on Thursday 27 April.

You have just received a letter asking you to attend Court. You get a tachycardia. What is it about?

There are four courts which doctors can face in relation to their medical practice.  It could be the GMC’s Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (the old Fitness to Practice panels) – though strictly speaking it is a Tribunal rather than a court. It is however adversarial in nature with full legal representation.  It could be in relation to a clinical negligence claim – in the civil court. An increasingly common occurrence in many specialties. Or very rarely it could be for the criminal court on a charge of wilful neglect or gross negligence manslaughter. Continue reading