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Promoting patient safety in primary care

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 12 January 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:109

Honesty and openness may not be best policy

  1. Graham Ness, clinical lecturer in forensic psychiatry (,
  2. Christopher Cordess, chair of academic section of forensic psychiatry
  1. School of Health and Related Research, Sheffield University, Sheffield S1 4DA
  2. Portland Medical Practice, Aldridge, West Midlands WS9 8NS

    EDITOR—We were both surprised by Wilson et al who, in their editorial, ask everybody to send in reports of their errors.1 Our concerns remain regardless of whether or not such accounts are published anonymously. After all, the police have used anonymous medical research data in their investigations. A conviction of culpable and reckless behaviour was secured against a man after he had sexual intercourse with his girlfriend without telling her he was infected with HIV. The scientific evidence that secured the conviction came from confidential research data that were obtained with a police warrant.2

    Furthermore, Wilson et all say that for doctors to report their errors, patient consent will be needed. This means that the patient will know that an account of his or her care …

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