BMJ 2001; 323 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.323.7305.174 (Published 21 July 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:174

Lawyers do not determine clinical negligence; that is the domain of medical experts working in the same field in which an “error” has occurred. But lawyers are often accused of inspiring defensive medicine, and in defending their role in the British Journal of Surgery (2001;88:899-900) one litigator says that the doctor's best friend is actually the specialist lawyer who prevents frivolous and unwarranted claims from ever starting in the first place.

Though observational epidemiological evidence lies behind much of the advice given to patients (don't smoke, drink clean water, etc), the General Medical Council has apparently decided that this type of research is now an infringement of patients' rights, and it plans to bring it to an end. From now on, any study can proceed only with explicit informed consent from each individual patient involved. This, argues one commentator in the Journal of Medical Screening (2001;8:59-60), may inadvertently kill off any future good ideas, because in many cases this process is simply unworkable.

A frustrated cyclist who regularly takes his life in his hands on London's roads has noticed that (those few) drivers who listen to Mozart are a more docile lot than those listening to loud pop music (Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine …

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