Trainee doctors forced to teach themselves

An investigation by the national health authority revealed that a focus on bringing down waiting times at Herlev Hospital meant trainees were performing procedures they were unprepared for

Inspections at Herlev Hospital’s orthopaedic ward revealed that trainee doctors have not been receiving vital training before being asked to do procedures.

According to metroXpress newspaper, an inspection by the national health agency Sundhedsstyrelsen revealed that trainee doctors received inadequate training during their six-month residencies at the hospital.

After worried trainee doctors contacted Sundhedsstyrelsen, the agency launched an investigation and confirmed stories of insufficient training before procedures and a lack of planned training.

One trainee doctor who spoke to metroXpress on condition of anonymity explained that pressure in the department to bring down waiting times meant senior doctors had less time to spend with the trainees.

“When there are only two doctors in the emergency room who had a half hour waiting time, you can’t ask for time,” the doctor said. “You might get some kind advice but both doctors cannot abandon what they are doing because the trainee doctor doesn’t know how to do something. There’s an enormous focus on reducing waiting times, which is why the only thing you can hope for is that an older colleague stays on after work to teach you. It’s a problem of time.”

The department passed an inspection in 2009 which indicates that conditions at the hospital have worsened since then.

Lisbeth Lintz, chairman of the trainee doctors association, Yngre Læger, told metroXpress that standards need to be raised.

“It is unacceptable that newly-educated doctors are left alone in situations where they need help from older colleagues to treat a patient," Lintz said. "It can affect the patient’s treatment which is why it is important that this problem is tackled immediately.”

Sundhedsstyrelsen replied that the hospital had listened to the advice and had implemented changes.

“It’s the responsibility of the head of the department to ensure that the trainee doctors are not made to do take on work they are not prepared for,” spokesperson Birte Obel told metroXpress. “The department has a lot of potential for educating [because] it’s a department with a high patient turnover connected to an emergency room. So it’s important that they are given the opportunity to correct the problems so that it once again can become a good educational institution.”