Education And Debate

An anaesthetist's view

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: (Published 07 January 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:47
  1. John N Lunn, reader in anaestheticsa
  1. a University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff CF4 4XW
  1. Correspondence to: The Old Nursery, Boughspring, Near Chepstow, NP6 7JL.

    So far as I can ascertain the report by John Mitchell is the only account of this case.1 The implications of the case are many and, based solely on the information given, my commentary can deal with only a few.

    Experts' testimony

    Hearings before the professional conduct committee of the General Medical Council are normally held in public. The identities of the people concerned in this case are not given in Mitchell's report, though they are on the public record.

    The strength of an expert's testimony in law is related to that person's professional position. In this hearing two groups of one or more professional peers on each side (that is, equals and registered medical practitioners with the GMC) gave their opinions. The professional conduct committee, probably with no anaesthetists of comparable standing, passed a verdict of serious professional misconduct. It should be noted that experts on both sides apparently considered that the respondent (a consultant anaesthetist) practised modern and appropriate anaesthesia. This opinion about competence might be thought to conflict with a finding of serious professional misconduct. A bystander might find it difficult to understand …

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