Adventure Travel Medic – go for free??
We were recently copied into an email from our Australian Medical Director, Dr Andrew Peacock. We’ve reproduced it here as we think it might give you some useful points to consider as its all too tempting to go cheap but then get faced with some pretty hard realities if something goes wrong on the trip and you can be guaranteed that the organisers insurance company will be only too pleased to shift responsibility on to you….
Thanks very much for your reply xxx.
Looks like some great trips ahead for your company and clients this year.
As the director of Expedition and Wilderness Medicine Australia and having worked in many areas of the world as a paid expedition doctor (just a small amount of remuneration is adequate) on major trips, I don’t work for free and I advise others at our courses and in social media blogs etc not to – because even if a doctor signs on as a client for a discount he/she will definitely be working when (not if) someone becomes even slightly unwell. This concept of a doctor sitting back “on the trip [to] relax and enjoy unless anything goes wrong” is one that many adventure companies seem to hold to when in fact the truth is often rather different. There is very definite implied responsibility in your arrangement of a 50% discount and all doctors take their professional role seriously, there is no ‘free lunch’ for them.
The other reality is that in such a situation the medico-legal responsibility will fall soley on the doctor if any difficulties arise with patient care and/or with the end result, because giving them a discount can legally be interpreted as a payment of sorts in any case. Out of interest, do you take care of the doctor’s medicial indemnity insurance for that period? Depending on the travel location a doctor may need to take out extra insurance over and above their usual yearly policy.
If xxxxxx xxxxxx are interested in discussing a template for a better, more professional, yet financially viable arrangement for all concerned where there is a need for medical caregiver on your trips then I’d be happy to jump into a discussion with you and involve other expedition medicine specialists for their views also.
Otherwise please keep me in mind whenever there is a role for a paid position as a doctor on an expedition or other project.