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 July 31, 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 July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
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