Litigation for medical malpractice has failed to improve patient care, hears conference

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 24 November 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c6703
  1. Rebecca Coombes
  1. 1BMJ

Pursuing doctors for compensation through the courts when errors occur can amount to “torture” for the professional concerned and does not improve patient care, a safety conference heard.

In a debate on whether litigation improves patient care, Shelia McLean, chair of law and ethics in medicine at Glasgow University, said that the United Kingdom’s adversarial system had failed. She was speaking at Risky Business, a conference on patient safety hosted by Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and supported by the BMJ.

Professor McLean, who has been investigating the possibility of introducing a no fault compensation scheme in Scotland, said, “Studies show that most patients want a meaningful apology, a meaningful explanation, and an assurance that policies have changed. Very …

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