Law Professor calls for changes to patient care

07 June 2012

Professor Ron Paterson

What makes a good doctor? Why are there bad doctors still practising and how can we protect patients, increase trust and improve medical care?

These are the issues author Ron Paterson, Health Law and Policy Professor at The University of Auckland brings to the fore in his book, The Good Doctor: What Patients Want, launched in Auckland in June.

Published by Auckland University Press, with support from the New Zealand Law Foundation, Professor Paterson researched The Good Doctor: What Patients Want during his time as New Zealand Law Foundation International Research Fellow.

He says the book could not have happened without the New Zealand Law Foundation and The University of Auckland Law Faculty - which allowed him to take time from his academic role to write the book.

He says the book is his attempt to explain why the simple aim of ensuring that every licensed doctor is a good doctor has proven so difficult to achieve – and to suggest the steps that need to be taken to meet the modest expectations of patients. It is divided into four parts: the ideal, the reality, the roadblocks, and a prescription for change.

“I suggest some concrete steps that should be taken to build trust between the public and the medical profession. I argue for a model of good medical practice that will realise the legitimate expectations of patients, encourage true professionalism in doctors, and form the basis of a new contract between patients and doctors,” he says.

Professor Paterson delivered his inaugural professorial lecture after the book launch.

Welcoming guests to Professor Paterson’s inaugural lecture, Dr Andrew Stockley, Dean of Law, said, “This lecture is the occasion for The University of Auckland to acknowledge and recognise Professor Ron Paterson’s standing as an academic leader and an authority in his field.”

In the lecture, titled ‘Good Doctors: Competence and Professionalism’, Professor Paterson drew on a decade’s experience in handling patient complaints as Health and Disability Commissioner, his research as New Zealand Law Foundation International Research Fellow and The Good Doctor: What Patients Want.

He presented a ‘prescription for change’ that seeks to support professionalism, while giving patients and the public justified assurance of medical competence.

Watch Ron Paterson's appearance on Breakfast TV.