The paper describes a study of three groups: patients, orthopaedic surgeons and the surgeons’ practice managers, concerning three types of legal risk associated with duty of care: failure to follow up, failure to warn and failure to diagnose. The study found there is cause for concern about doctors’ follow-up and documentation of patient care. Doctors may be unaware of the Australian courts’ propensity to emphasise practitioner responsibility rather than patient autonomy. A further important result is the considerable disparity between doctors’ views and the views of their practice managers. The paper draws implications for improved risk awareness and further research.