Daily Mail story on care of sick babies was “highly misleading,” says BMJ editor

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e8240 (Published 4 December 2012)
Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e8240

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  1. Zosia Kmietowicz
  1. 1BMJ

The BMJ’s editor in chief, Fiona Godlee, has criticised the Daily Mail newspaper for misleading readers by publishing a highly inaccurate article on the care of severely disabled newborn babies that was based on a personal view article in the BMJ.

The Mail article appeared on its front page on 29 November with the banner “Now sick babies go on the death pathway: Doctor’s haunting testimony reveals how children are put on the end-of-life plan.”1

It claimed that the BMJ personal view, published anonymously on 1 November,2 was evidence that sick children in the NHS were being put on the Liverpool care pathway. It added, “The Mail can reveal the practice of withdrawing food and fluid by tube is being used on young patients as well as severely disabled newborn babies.”

However, in a letter to the Mail, which had not been published when the BMJ went to press, Godlee pointed out that “the doctor who wrote the BMJ article does not practise in the UK. Nor does the article mention the Liverpool care pathway” (box).

The Daily Telegraph ran a similar news item that was based on the Mail’s story and that has been shared many hundreds of times on social media. However, that story has been deleted from the newspaper’s website after a BMJ reader pointed out its inaccuracies, although the Telegraph has refused to post a retraction.

Journalists at the Mail did not ask the BMJ for permission to …

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