Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Would criminalizing guilty healthcare professionals improve patient care?

Date:
January 23, 2014
Source:
BMJ-British Medical Journal
Summary:
The UK government is considering whether to adopt a recommendation to introduce a new criminal sanction in cases where healthcare workers are "unequivocally guilty of willful or reckless neglect or mistreatment of patients." A discussion on asks whether this will improve patient care.

The UK government is considering whether to adopt a recommendation to introduce a new criminal sanction in cases where healthcare workers are "unequivocally guilty of wilful or reckless neglect or mistreatment of patients." A discussion on bmj.com today asks whether this will improve patient care.

Jo Bibby, Director of Strategy at the Health Foundation says it will deter poor care that results in severe harm, but not death. She says that the proposal, made in response to the Francis inquiry, will close a gap in the law and is one of many important steps to improving patient care.

Dr Bibby says there are many instances where new legislation to curb behaviours have worked including the drink driving laws, compulsory wearing of seatbelts and the recent smoking legislation.

She argues that without the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 and Mental Capacity Act 2005, it is unlikely that offenders would have been prosecuted under general assault laws. Plus, there is "no evidence to suggest that the introduction of the Mental Capacity Act has generated a culture of fear or inhibited candour or cooperation between healthcare workers." Bibby asks why everyone receiving healthcare can't be afforded the same protection as patients covered by the Mental Capacity Act.

She understands concern from healthcare professionals worried about being prosecuted where harm has occurred through circumstances outside their control, but stresses that the proposed legislation would apply "only to 'wilful' neglect."

Dr Bibby concludes that this legislation "wouldn't be without potential pitfalls" and stresses the importance of clarity and on "building […] the understanding required to enable people to work in safe systems of patient care."

However, Dr Christine Tomkins has the opposing view that sufficient sanctions exist already and "such a move would be likely to be detrimental in a number of ways."

As CEO of the Medical Defence Union in London, Dr Tomkins says that sanctions are "already in place for healthcare professionals accused of 'wilful neglect'." She asks how new offences will be defined when it is not clear "whether [it] would involve only 'neglect' or extend also to 'mistreatment' or 'ill treatment'."

Dr Tomkins says that it is unrealistic to say that a sanction will be applied rarely as "when something goes wrong there are often attempts to bring professionals to account in as many ways as possible." She adds that the police and Crown Prosecution Service would have to get involved, often taking years.

She believes that investigations which can "last months and sometimes years" would cause "enormous distress and disruption to those accused and to the NHS generally, affecting patient care."

Dr Tomkins says that doctors already follow the GMC's guidance of Good Medical Practice which sets out clearly "what is expected of doctors for the protection of patients."

Dr Tomkins concludes that it is "misguided" to suggest that a new sanction would be "a positive step towards improving patient safety" adding that this is "not the best way to encourage […] open culture."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BMJ-British Medical Journal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. Bibby, C. Tomkins. Would criminalising healthcare professionals for wilful neglect improve patient care? BMJ, 2014; 348 (jan23 1): g133 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.g133

Cite This Page:

BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Would criminalizing guilty healthcare professionals improve patient care?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140123222049.htm>.
BMJ-British Medical Journal. (2014, January 23). Would criminalizing guilty healthcare professionals improve patient care?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140123222049.htm
BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Would criminalizing guilty healthcare professionals improve patient care?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140123222049.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) In a potential breakthrough for future obesity treatments, scientists have used MRI scans to pinpoint brown fat in a living adult for the first time. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) President Barack Obama gave a briefing Thursday announcing 8 million people have signed up under the Affordable Care Act. He blasted continued Republican efforts to repeal the law. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins