We found this News item really interesting and believe that it may impact positively on the way doctors in the UK approach their care of patients – without fear that they will be punished even when a genuine mistake / error happens. To ‘Err is human’ is a common saying because in the best hands, with the best of intentions and in the best facilities, humans beings make mistakes because they are mere mortals, not infallible.
For a long time there have been calls for regulators to take this fact into consideration when adjudicating on complaints against doctors. The new stance of the GMC UK is welcome but it calls for education of the public in general so that patients and families understand the reasoning behind the new rule, so that it does not appear that the regulator is backing-off from ‘protecting patients’, one of its main functions.
Surely, Regulators of Medical Practice in other countries need to look seriously about adopting this rule:
Doctors who make single clinical mistake are unlikely to face full GMC investigation under new process
BMJ 2019; 365 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l1829 (Published 18 April 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l1829
The General Medical Council (GMC) says that it will reduce the number of its full investigations into single, one-off mistakes by doctors.
The change comes after the regulator’s two year pilot, since 2016, of a provisional inquiry process for single clinical incidents. Under this new system a complaint or referral was followed by gathering information quickly from sources such as medical records, experts, responsible officers, and the doctors themselves to assess any ongoing risk to patients. The GMC then decided in each case whether a full investigation was required. [full text is restricted-access]
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