Home' OsteoLife : OsteoLife Summer 2015 Contents 20 Osteopathy Australia
uild Insurance regularly analyses claims data to
understand factors contributing to claims and
complaints. This analysis has highlighted a trend
where claims involve treatment by at least two
osteopaths. This finding led Guild Insurance to explore
why a patient seeing more than one osteopath may lead to
a claim arising and what can be done to prevent this.
why wOulD a patient see a seCOnD OsteOpath?
Common scenarios include:
• some clinics operate in a way where the treatment of patients is
shared between various osteopaths
• patients may change clinics over time, such as when they have
changed work location or moved house
• a patient may require an urgent appointment and can't get in to see
their usual osteopath so chooses to see another.
The situations that are most concerning are the occasions when a
patient is unhappy with the treatment they’ve received and therefore
chooses to go elsewhere for a second opinion or further treatment.
what Can GO wrOnG?
Not all situations where more than one osteopath is involved in
treatment will lead to issues arising. However, the following cases
highlight how complaints can occur.
hOw Can this Be aVOiDeD?
• Don’t make comments to a patient judging the treatment
another practitioner has provided. It is possible that the clinical
situation you’re seeing is not exactly the same as the first
osteopath saw. If the patient has told you what the diagnosis
and treatment was, it’s possible they might be wrong due to
their lack of clinical knowledge. Making even a small, seemingly
insignificant comment to a patient regarding the choice and
quality of treatment provided by another practitioner could be
enough to encourage that patient to make a complaint or a
demand for compensation.
• If you’re seeing a patient for the first time, be careful not to fall
into the trap of simply relying on the patient telling you what
their regular treatment entails or just relying on previous clinical
notes. You need to have a thorough understanding of the
patient’s condition and how it may have changed over time. Only
then can you decide what care will be most appropriate.
• If you’ve taken over the treatment of a patient from another
osteopath whose notes are insufficient, you may need to spend
some time doing further assessment before continuing on with
their ‘usual’ treatment. It’s advisable to engage the patient in a
positive conversation on why you’re doing that, so as to manage
• Managing patient expectations from the outset is vital. Make
patients aware of what to expect from their treatment; they
won’t want surprises. The more they understand about their
treatment and likely outcomes, the less likely they are to be
dissatisfied and look elsewhere for treatment.
• Building relationships with patients is an important element in
running a successful practice. Get to know your patients and give
them a reason to trust you and come back to you.
• Where appropriate, contact your patients after treatment. If
you expect them to be in some pain or discomfort following
treatment, they may appreciate you making contact to check
how they’re feeling. If your patients haven’t returned for a
follow- up appointment, call them to find out why. This gives you
the opportunity to discuss any concerns they may have about
• Patients can become frustrated with ongoing costs of treatment,
especially if they aren’t seeing the benefit they’d expected.
Always be open and upfront about the cost of treatment. And
where possible, let them know how many appointments you
anticipate they’ll need to treat their condition.
• When you’ve been treating a patient over a long period of time,
continue to keep your communication with them up-to-date
and professional. Patients generally expect to be given the most
current information on their treatment and what outcomes are
likely. Never assume they have a complete understanding and
continue educating them on positive lifestyle habits.
• Avoid offering refunds or free treatments in the event of a poor
or unexpected outcome. This may be seen by the patient as an
admission of responsibility or liability and they may expect that
Guild Insurance explores the claims that could arise from a patient seeing multiple osteopaths.
Case study one:
A patient was treated for a bulging disc by his usual osteopath
over a period of five consultations. He then moved interstate
so went to see another osteopath for the same complaint. This
second osteopath disagreed with the diagnosis and proceeded
with a different course of treatment. The patient complained to
the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA)
claiming the first treating osteopath incorrectly diagnosed his
condition and therefore provided treatment that exacerbated
Case study two:
A patient presented to her usual osteopath with neck pain and
was treated with a range of methods including massage and
muscle stretching. The patient was also advised to use heat
on her neck at home. When her condition hadn’t improved
she decided to see another osteopath. This second osteopath
advised the patient not to use heat on the area and provided a
different treatment, which eased the pain. The patient formed
the view that the first osteopath provided incorrect treatment
and therefore sought a refund of fees paid for the consultation.
12/01/15 12:01 PM
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