Giving advice to drivers

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Lborobrewer | 09:48 Wed 02nd May 2012 | Criminal
8 Answers
I hope someone can help me.
I work in an Emergency Department. We have patients that after having a plaster cast fitted ask us about driving with the cast in place. The advice that we are to give is that they contact their insurance company to see if they are covered. This is the advice from the DVLA as well, however I am concerned that an offence under the Road Traffic Act (careless driving) may be committed if the cast prevents them from being in full control of the vehicle in an emergency. This may be further compounded if they drive abroad on holiday where they could be committing an offence even if it isn't illegal in this country.
My questions are:
if a patient followed my advice to contact their insurance company, was given the all clear from an insurance cover point of view, but was subsequently charged with Careless Driving,
a) could I be held criminally liable?
b) Would my employer be liable either vicariously or otherwise as they sanction the advice?
c)Could my professional registration be at risk?

d) What happens if the person was stopped abroad within the EU or EEA (for example) and charged, could I be called to account there?

Invariably there would be a defence that "the hospital told me I could drive if my insurance company was happy".


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I don;t know whether you can be held legally responsible but when i have had drivers who have had injuries such as broken legs or arms i have refused to let them drive until i have a letter from their doctors saying they ar safe to do so.
With diabetese i need a letter from doc and dvla
a) No.
b) No.
c) No.
d) No.
See previous discussion on this subject

I used to be in the same position as an Occupational Therapist. I dealt with people with disabilities, both temporary and permanent and with people who had had hip and knee replacements. They would ask me about driving and other activities. I did have to give an opinion on people's activities outside the hospital (living independently at home, handling hot kettles going up and down stairs and so on - risky activities) The line was that we could state what we had seen the patient do on assessment and if that had been in our opinion unsafe then we could suggest an alternative. People are independent creatures with the right to make their own decisions however so we could not and did not say that a person was safe or unsafe, just state what we had seen.

In your case, my advice would be around whether the activity would be safe for their injury/disability/limitation so eg whether it would make the injured limb worse, NOT whether they would be safe in terms of actually controlling the vehicle and making decisions. After all, they might be mad manic drivers and a cast isn't going to fix that!

So If I was you, the kind of thing that i would be saying is "driving will not make your injury worse" or "driving will make your injury worse, don't do it" If you are saying that driving will not make their injury worse then remind them to check with their insurance company and also that any pain meds that they take may affect their ability to drive/operate heavy machinery.

Yes IMO if you say that someone is "safe to drive" then that might be held against you if it could be proved that you said it.
The other thing that I would say (as ex clinician and manager) is that this is worth taking to your line management and professional advice line structure if they are different to ensure that you are all singing from the same hymn sheet
PS of course you will also document on the patient notes exactly what you did tell the patient...another helpful thing could be printed material to give to patients?
There's no way it can be safe to drive with an arm in plaster! Surely it would be better just to tell them to contact their insurance companies and leave it at that, without expressing any professional opinion at all.
Kiki the OP shouldbe giving advice to the patient about whether driving or any other activity will make the injury worse. The patient is entitled to that.
What the OP shouldn't be giving advice on is whether or not the patient will be able to drive safely.
a. no and

have a strong dribk before you go to bed

that by the way was a second opinion.

who made up these questions ?
if your were medical the MDU would advize similarly the nurses RCN
and the aancillary specialties as they are now registered and regulated
can by in professional indemnity/insurance

so why aske us ?

and yes your employer would be vicariously liable specifically because it was a work based question based on your work which they advised the answer so you're covered

sleep better

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