Intended for healthcare professionals


More doctors charged with manslaughter are being convicted, shows analysis

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 10 September 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h4402
  1. Philip White
  1. 1Winchester

More doctors in the United Kingdom who are charged with medical manslaughter and whose cases reach court are being convicted and sent to jail, data indicate, though overall numbers are too small for statistical analysis.

Searches of news, legal, and medical databases, together with a request to the General Medical Council made under freedom of information legislation, found that 11 doctors had been charged with medical (gross negligence) manslaughter in the UK between 2006 and the end of 2013. Of these, six (55%) were convicted.

The last three doctors convicted in 2012-13 all received custodial sentences rather than the usual suspended sentence (box). Before that the previous doctor to get a custodial sentence for medical manslaughter was in 2004.1

Since December 2014 four more doctors have been charged with medical manslaughter and are awaiting trial.

The 55% conviction rate was …

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