Should one-off errors by honest doctors need to be punished harshly?

Patients trust their doctors to do their job competently with due diligence each and every time, without any exception.

In an ideal world, doctors should do their utmost to justify their patients trust and confidence.

Doctors who persistently underperform need to be punished. Doctors who willfully and knowingly harm their patients should be punished harshly.

But doctors are human beings. Human beings are never perfect in whatever work they do.

Furthermore, the “Practice of Medicine” is more of an art balancing probabilities rather than an exact science with discrete answers all the time to every problem.

So unintentional medical errors happen all the time.

There are extremely few doctors who haven’t done an honest mistake or error in their entire career. So if all doctors are punished harshly each and every-time an honest error occurs , there will be few doctors left who won’t practice defensively.

Defensive medicine has a cost. Defensive Medicine would push up the cost of medical care further. And fewer and fewer people would be able to afford medical care.

Read my personal views on BMJ website and submit your views on the BMJ rapid response section

Article: GMC: harsh punishment is a sword of Damocles 
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Disclaimer: Please note – This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is NOT a expert medical opinion on various topics. This blog is purely for information only and do check the sources where cited. Please DO consult your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant to you. The views expressed in this blog are NOT, in any way whatsoever, intended to be a substitute for professional advice. The blog is NOT previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed, in any way, by any organisation that the author is associated with. The views expressed in this blog likely represents some of the author’s personal views held at the time of drafting the blog and MAY CHANGE overtime, particularly when new evidence comes to light.

GP suspension for failure to refer fast track. GMC: harsh punishment is a sword of Damocles. BMJ 2022; 378 doi: (Published 26 July 2022)Cite this as: BMJ 2022;378:o1828