The 2019 Annual Scientific Meeting brought together a unique group of professionals who shared their knowledge and experience in Rehabilitation Medicine, focusing on the legal, and at times ethical, aspects of this field of medicine.
We extend a big thank you to all of our presenters, which included guest, College and open speakers, who made the program both thought provoking and informative.
A highlight was the opening Keynote Address by The Honourable Justice Paul le Gay Brereton, Justice of the Court of Appeal, Supreme Court of NSW. Justice Brereton spoke about legal issues arising from conditions of PTSD and Adjustment Disorder in military personnel and veterans. He particularly discussed the recently medically recognised, although ancient, condition of Moral Injury. Moral injury occurs when an act of serious transgression creates an internal conflict of guilt and shame, often leading to depression and feelings of low self-worth. These symptoms have long been credited to PTSD, however doctors are now beginning to separate PTSD from Moral Injury. Justice Brereton discussed what is Moral Injury, how it is identified, and treatment methods including Moral Repair. We hope to include an article on this topic in our Members Library in the near future.
Rehabilitation often involves an interprofessional team. Who is liable when things go wrong? Dr Abraham Wai identified key problems which can lead to disaster: Group thinking e.g. "it's what my colleague does", normalisation of deviance in procedures, and lack of assertive culture e.g. a nurse won't act because the doctor didn't instruct them to.
Dr Geoff Speldewinde gave the audience a clear explanation of the difference between statistical and clinical significance when assessing whether a particular rehabilitation treatment gives evidence of a good outcome. He highlighted that rather than getting bogged down in statistics, physicians want to know "does this actually work?"
Issues of discharging non-compliant patients were discussed by Dr Selva Mudaliar (pictured right). Dr Michael Lee and ACLM President Sandra Johnson showcased emerging rehab technologies and raised legal and ethical questions which need to be addressed as these technologies become more accessible.
Dr Susan Arnold highlighted common situations that arise when assessing Occupational Therapy needs, and how the assessor's role is to determine the patient's needs rather than satisfy the lawyer's goals. Air Vice Marshall Tracy Smart spoke about the current situation of PTSD in the Australian Defence Force.
Thank you to all who attended this event and we encourage everyone to plan to attend the 2020 Annual Scientific Meeting. Details will be announced in coming weeks.