Intended for healthcare professionals



BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 10 February 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:371
  1. Kevin Barraclough, general practitioner
  1. Painswick, Gloucestershire

For most of my adult life I thought that a tort was a sort of sophisticated lemon curd pudding. Rather recently I discovered that it is a medieval French term for a wrong, and is the basis for the medical negligence system that we all dread.

The principle itself is simple and attractive. If you injure someone else by acting badly you must compensate them. A child in the playground would applaud its inherent justice. But the child …

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