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Health Professionals Told They Should Admit to Mistakes

View profile for Melanie Reynolds
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Patients are entitled to a face-to-face explanation & apology if something goes wrong from doctors, nurses and midwives. This is set out in the new joint guidance from the General Medical Council and the Nursing Midwifery Council. These regulations say that professionals must have support of an open and honest working environment where staff feel empowered to admit mistakes and report any incidents which have led to harm.

All healthcare professionals have a duty of candour, ie a professional responsibility to be honest with people in their care when things go wrong.

What does the joint guidance cover?

The new guidance sets out the standards expected of all doctors, nurses and midwives practising in the UK. It also aims to help patients understand what to expect from healthcare professionals.

It sets out that doctors, nurses and midwives should:

1) speak to a patient, or those close to them, as soon as they realise something has gone wrong with their care

2) apologise to the patient & explain what happened and what can be done if they have suffered harm

3) use their professional judgement about whether to inform patients about near-misses (incidents which have the potential to result in harm but do not)

4) report errors at an early stage so lessons can be learned quickly, and patients are protected from harm in the future

5) not try to prevent colleagues or former colleagues from raising concerns about patient safety. Managers must ensure that if people do raise concerns, they are protected from unfair criticism, detriment or dismissal.

For more information or to contact a member of our Clinical Negligence team click here.