Doctors face greater risk of prosecution than the public for assisting suicideBMJ 2010; 340 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c1167 (Published 26 February 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c1167
- Clare Dyer
Doctors face a greater risk of prosecution if they assist a patient to commit suicide than do the individual’s family members or friends, under final guidelines on assisting a suicide in England and Wales issued by the director of public prosecutions.
The decision to make it a factor in favour of prosecution that the suspect was a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional caring for the person who committed suicide is a change from the interim policy, issued last September, which treated doctors and nurses the same as anybody else (BMJ 24 September 2009, doi:10.1136/bmj.b3935).
The final guidance follows nearly 5000 responses to interim guidance outlining the factors that would influence the chief prosecutor in deciding whether or not to prosecute for assisting a suicide, a crime in England and Wales carrying a maximum sentence of 14 years in jail.
The director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer, was …