Medical and social care staff should be open and upfront about medical blunders, say lawyers as the Scottish Government consults on imposing a ‘duty of candour’ for healthcare providers.
“Most people who are injured as a result of a medical error want nothing more than an explanation of what went wrong and why, and to know that lessons have been learned,” said Gordon Dalyell, Scottish representative of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, a not-for-profit group which campaigns for injured people’s rights.
“People should understand that saying ‘sorry’ or admitting what went wrong, is not an admission of liability for a legal claim,” he explained. “This is about giving patients the right to know what has happened to them, so that they might be able to move on”.
The Scottish Government proposes that with a statutory duty of candour there should be a threshold applied to which events need to be disclosed.
“Telling patients about every slight incident, even if there was no harm, may cause patients to lose confidence in hospital and care staff. But while the duty should not be overbearing, near misses should still be taken seriously. We need balance,” said Mr Dalyell.
APIL said inits response that the obligation of candour should be on individuals rather than the employer, as proposed by the Scottish Government.
“Individual duty would be much simpler and less bureaucratic, and therefore more likely to be complied with,” Mr Dalyell explained.
The consultation closes on 14 January.