Who can we blame?BMJ 1997; 315 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.315.7109.688 (Published 13 September 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:688
- Charles Essex, consultant neurodevelopmental paediatrician
Lawsuits and Liniment, a trilogy of programmes on Radio 4 (September 2, 9, and 16 at 8 30 pm), examines the tricky area of medical negligence, as Charles Essex reports
A gynaecologist friend of mine, exonerated at an inquest, was accused by relatives of murdering their sister. She was deeply upset at this slur, particularly as she had done everything correctly and to the best of her ability. This grievance was echoed by all the doctors who spoke in Lawsuits and Liniment. Conversely, all the relatives interviewed felt that somebody was to blame for their spouse or child being handicapped. These three programmes gave a commendably balanced, albeit superficial, view of the patients' and the doctors' views of difficulties surrounding litigation in the health service.
The implied culprits were all doctors. Do only doctors make mistakes in patient care? Are doctors the only ones who make decisions and do anything wrong by commission or omission? The …