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    Clinical negligence and physiotherapy: UK survey of physiotherapists’ experiences of litigation

    Yeowell, Gillian ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3872-9799, Leech, Rachel, Greenhalgh, Susan, Willis, Emma and Selfe, James (2024) Clinical negligence and physiotherapy: UK survey of physiotherapists’ experiences of litigation. Physiotherapy, 124. pp. 126-134. ISSN 0031-9406

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    Abstract

    Aim To investigate the extent and impact of litigation on the UK physiotherapy profession. Design An online cross-sectional questionnaire survey design was used. The survey was open to all qualified physiotherapists who have practiced in the UK, from any speciality, of any grade and from any setting including NHS, non-NHS, and private practice. Results 688 respondents completed the survey (96% CI). All UK nations were represented. 73% were female, 44% were qualified >20 Years. Most worked in the NHS (74%) and worked in a neuromusculoskeletal setting (62%). 10% of respondents had been involved in litigation. 128 claims were reported with some respondents being involved in more than 1 case. Litigation was a highly stressful experience for those who experienced it and was a source of concern for many others. The personal impact was stress (76%) and worry and anxiety (67%). The most common professional impact was defensive practice (68%). Most respondents incorrectly identified who should provide their legal support. 46% were not satisfied with the support received. Most (77%) reported that litigation training should be included in pre-registration, as well as postgraduate (68%) programs. Conclusion This is the first UK survey that has investigated the experiences of litigation on the UK physiotherapy profession. Ten percent of physiotherapists in our survey had been involved in litigation. Litigation impacted physiotherapists’ physical and mental wellbeing and their clinical practice. Improved support, both emotional and legal is required. Clinical negligence training should be included in pre-registration and postgraduate programs.

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