Risks of working in an out-of-hours setting
Sessional GPs, particularly locum GPs, provide primary medical care for patients when their own GP is unavailable, much of this occurs out-of-hours (OOH). OOH is provided in a variety of settings, such as in emergency departments, primary care centres, walk-in centres and minor injuries units.
A sessional GP's responsibility working in OOH is to provide good and safe medical care on that day and provide any essential information for the subsequent handover, including any adequate safety netting.
During the last few years there has been a distinct rise in complaints and claims arising from consultations in the OOH setting. This is the result of a multitude of factors, eg, a consulting OOH GP will not have access to the patient's complete records, and they will be dealing with patients who are unfamiliar with them. Providing care in the OOH setting carries both unique risks and vulnerabilities.
Dr Rachel Birch and Dr Richard Stacey have written an article advising GPs on how to avoid pitfalls/complaints when working in an OOH setting. "Perils of the twilight Zone" features in the latest issue of Sessional GP, which highlights three typical OOH cases for sessional GPs to be mindful of.