If a doctor is grossly negligent and the patient dies as a result, the doctor can be charged with manslaughter. We have investigated the difference in opinion between medical professionals and the public on whether doctors should face criminal charges following different fatal medical errors. We conducted a survey of 40 medical professionals and 40 members of public, using a set of questions about negligence and manslaughter relating to four real-life cases of doctors charged with manslaughter where eventual outcomes were known. Medical professionals and the public agreed that lessons could be learnt from all four cases and that an independent review of each case should be carried out. However, across all cases, the public were more likely to respond that the doctor should be charged with manslaughter (OR = 2.1; 95% CI = 1.3-3.2). The public and, to a lesser extent, medical professionals still hold individuals responsible following a death due to medical error. This has implications for those who advocate a systems-based approach for assessing the root causes of medical errors, where there is a limited focus on individual accountability.
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||Medicine, Science and the Law|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Oct 2008|