To ascertain how much family medicine residents know about medical-legal issues and what their attitudes toward medical-legal training are.
Survey using multiple-choice questions to assess knowledge of typical legal scenarios and attitudes to training. Responses to questions were assessed using a Likert scale.
University of Ottawa's Family Medicine Program, including the Northeastern Ontario Family Medicine Program and the Melrose and Elizabeth Bruyere Family Medicine Centres.
Forty-five family medicine residents in the University of Ottawa's Family Medicine Program.
Demographic information and answers to questions assessing respondents' knowledge of and attitudes toward medical-legal issues.
Mean score for correct responses was 8.6 out of 16 possible correct responses. Resident's knowledge about certain issues was excellent, such as knowing that comments can be constructed as sexual abuse and that they should report patients whose medical conditions make it dangerous for them to operate motor vehicles. On other issues, such as how to treat incompetent individuals and how to treat minors when parents refuse consent for treatment, residents' knowledge seemed poor. Although residents thought knowledge of medical-legal issues was important for providing good-quality care to patients and avoiding litigation, they felt inadequately trained in and uncomfortable about dealing with these issues.
Residents are somewhat confused about medical-legal issues. They seem very interested in learning medical-legal principles. These findings should encourage educators to provide opportunity for residents to gain knowledge in these areas.
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