Have you ever wondered what the legal ramifications could be when you have given professional advice to a friend or colleague? What happens if you are sharing a coffee, and advise a fellow health professional to take a certain action which then turns to custard - are you liable for that advice? Is this just a potential problem for health professionals, or does it affect you whatever job you do?
Legalities of mentoring
The reason I ask this is because of a conversation I had the other day about the potential risks that I have to manage in the eMentoring project I am implementing for Aged Care Queensland (ACQI). The concern is about the liability of the mentor and ACQI, if a mentee implements advice from a mentor that results in litigation.
My thought is that every mentee is ultimately responsible for his/her own actions, and should sign off on this on a consent form at the beginning of the mentoring relationship. However, this may not be sufficently rubust if taken to court. I have said before that mentoring is not about the giving of clinical advice, but that may not stop clinical advice being given.
Position of mentor
Another issue is the resonsibility of the mentor if the mentee discloses information about bad practice - at what point should a mentor have to follow up disclosures from a mentee?
I think that one way to manage this is to make sure the mentor feels well supported by ACQI, to make sure they understand that they can refer to me and the project team at any time for help and advice.
The other thing I want to do is embed an online device for the mentors so they can support each other, especially when I am no longer involved in the project. This will add to the sustainability of the project. This may take the form of an email group, online discussion on the eMentoring project wiki/blog or synchronus meetings - I am not sure how this will pan out at this stage because it will depend on the needs of the mentors.
What do you think about these issues, and how would you suggest I go about managing them? Would the potential risk of litigation prevent you from being a mentor in a formal mentoring program?
Image: 'london 16082008-66' Walwyn