Views & Reviews Starting Out

Another doctor should investigate all hospital deaths

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 11 May 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e3349
  1. Kinesh Patel, junior doctor, London
  1. kinesh_patel{at}

I’m going to get stick for saying this, but here goes. Surgeons are better at dealing with death than physicians, no matter how counterintuitive this generalisation might seem given the stereotypes involved.

When a patient dies in hospital we physicians deal with the family sympathetically, express our sorrow, and move on. There’s always another patient to see, another long letter to dictate.

Our surgical colleagues, however, take a different approach. They too express sympathy and sadness, but they also tend to take the death more personally. “Why did this happen?” …

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