Intended for healthcare professionals


Making amends for negligence

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 19 February 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:417
  1. Paul Fenn, professor of insurance studies (,
  2. Alastair Gray, professor of health economics and director,
  3. Neil Rickman, reader in economics,
  4. Adrian Towse, director
  1. Nottingham University Business School, Nottingham NG8 1BB
  2. Health Economics Research Centre, Department of Public Health, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 7LF
  3. Department of Economics, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey GU2 7XH
  4. Office of Health Economics, London SW1 2DY

    Current system operates well, but reforms are still needed

    That doctors are more likely to be sued for negligence now than they have been in the past is undeniable. In particular, in the 1980s and 1990s the number of claims steadily increased, relativeto the number of treatment episodes. The reasons for this are by no means clear but probably include elements of a cultural shift in attitudes to the medical profession and the growth of the legalservices “industry.” More contentious, however, is whether this change represents a good or a bad thing, and what if anything needs to be done about it. The chief medical officer's consultation paper, “Making Amends,” starts from a premise that something does need to be done, and it puts forward suggestions for reform, including fast track arrangements for smaller cases, but stopping shortof a full no fault scheme for all patients.1 Two contributors to this issue have reacted to the chief medical officer's …

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