Views And Reviews

Avoiding blame and liability is vital to learning from errors and engineering a safer NHS

BMJ 2018; 360 doi: (Published 31 January 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;360:k447
  1. Helgi Johannsson, consultant anaesthetist, clinical director1,
  2. William Rook, core trainee year 2, acute care common stem, anaesthesia2
  1. 1Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK
  2. 2University Hospitals Leicester NHS Trust, Leicester, UK
  1. helgijoh{at}

Medical law needs urgent reform to let doctors maximise learning from every incident

Hadiza Bawa-Garba, a trainee paediatrician who was convicted of manslaughter over the death of Jack Adcock, a 6 year old boy, was struck off the UK medical register last week after a High Court ruling, in order to maintain public confidence in the profession.

In the past 10 years, British medicine has seen much progress in the development of an open and honest safety culture. We report and investigate incidents; develop action plans to prevent repetition; and spread learning wider than our immediate circle by discussion with colleagues, not only within the hospital but at conferences, in the medical literature, and even on social media. We include our patients in this process—we are open with them, not only about what happened, but also what we are …

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