Views & Reviews In and Out of Hospital

No news is good news: Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 01 June 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d3390
  1. James Owen Drife, emeritus professor of obstetrics and gynaecology, Leeds
  1. J.O.Drife{at}

When the latest report on maternal mortality in the United Kingdom was published three months ago, there was a small flurry of press interest, focused on a rise in deaths from sepsis (BJOG 2011;118:s1, doi:10.1111/j.1471-0528.2010.02847.x). The press interest quickly faded because no one was to blame: most of the infections had been acquired in the community. Had the infections arisen in hospital all hell would have broken loose.

Scapegoats, individual or institutional, are essential nowadays for triggering action in the health and social services. …

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