Medicolegal work

As a physiotherapist, you may be asked to provide a report of your involvement with a patient in connection with legal action and other investigations. This is known as medicolegal work.

Understanding medicolegal work

Unexpected events that may cause patient harm may be investigated in a number of ways.

Patients may make a complaint about their care to a hospital, or they could contact a solicitor if they want to make a clinical negligence claim. They may also complain to an employer or the HCPC if they are concerned about the fitness to practice of a worker.

Understanding how concerns are investigated can help you understand how you may be involved in medicolegal work.

How you may be involved in medicolegal work
Physio with elderly patient

What kind of expert are you?

You may be required to be a ‘professional witness’ for some types of work or you may choose to develop expertise as an independent ‘expert witness’. 

You will be asked to be a professional witness if you are the treating physiotherapist or support worker and have first- hand direct involvement with a patient or situation.

An expert witness is a person who has a particular professional skill as well as legal training in order to assist courts and tribunals in making judgements. 

Find out more about these two different roles
Justice with scales

Coroners' inquests

A coroner is required to investigate a person’s death in certain circumstances.

You may be asked to provide information to the Coroner (England and Wales, NI) or Procurator Fiscal (Scotland) when a formal investigation into a person’s death is required.

You may also be asked to attend the Inquest (England and Wales, NI ) or Fatal Accident Inquiry (Scotland)

Find out what you need to include in any account of your involvement with a deceased patient
Coroner's court building

Writing a statement

When writing a statement there are several things you need to include.

Find out what you need to include in any account of your treatment and intervention with a patient as part of the information-gathering stage of any type of investigation process.

Find out what to include
Copying up notes on to a computer

Getting support with medicolegal issues

You may need further advice and support to help you with medicolegal issues.

There are several places where you can get this support.

Find out who should be supporting you and where to get more help
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