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Departing from guidelines in patients’ best interest is defensible, says negligence expert

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h466 (Published 27 January 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h466
  1. Zosia Kmietowicz
  1. 1The BMJ

Medical negligence experts have joined the debate on prescribing oseltamivir (Tamiflu) to prevent flu in elderly people in nursing homes, advising doctors that they can depart from guidelines when it is in their patients’ best interests to do so.

Caroline Fryar, head of advisory services at the Medical Defence Union, said that guidelines informed clinical practice but did not dictate it. She said, “Doctors are expected to be familiar with any nationally recognised guidelines that are relevant to their specialty, as well as any local guidelines. This does not mean they cannot depart from guidance in specific situations when they consider it to be in the patient’s interests to do so.”

Fryar was responding on thebmj.com to an article by Margaret McCartney, a Glasgow GP who had …

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