Errors, Medicine and the Law

Cambridge University Press, 16.08.2001 - 254 Seiten
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Untoward injuries are unacceptably common in medical treatment, at times with tragic consequences for patients. The phrases 'an epidemic of error' and 'the medical toll' have been coined to describe this problem of 'iatrogenic harm', which it has been suggested may have contributed to 98,000 deaths per year in the US. Some of these incidents are the result of negligence on the part of doctors, but more usually they are no more than inevitable concomitants of the complexity of modern healthcare. This book is fundamentally about distinguishing the former from the latter. Although medicine is used as the book's primary example, the points made apply equally to aviation, industrial activities, and many other fields of human endeavour. The book advocates a more informed alternative to the blaming culture which has increasingly come to dominate our response to accidents, whether in the medical field or elsewhere.

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Ausgewählte Seiten


The human factor
Negligence recklessness and blame
The standard of care
Assessing the standard the role of the expert witness
Beyond blame responding to the needs of the injured

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Über den Autor (2001)

Alan Merry is a practising cardiac anaesthetist, whose research focuses on safety, and in particular, on reducing error, in anaesthesia. He was the co-founder and co-chair of the New Zealand Medical Law Reform Group, which contributed to the passing of the Crimes Amendment Act 1997 which redefined the threshold for criminal prosecution arising from negligently caused harm in New Zealand. He is author of a number of papers in medical and legal journals. He has developed a computer-based systems approach to reducing drug administration in anaesthesia (the IDAS) which applies many of the principles discussed in this book, and which is in use in several Auckland hospitals.

Alexander McCall Smith has been involved in medico-legal issues for more than twenty years. He has lectured on the subject at universities throughout the world. He is the Vice-Chairman of the Human Genetics Commission of the United Kingdom, a member of the International Bioethics Committee of UNESCO, and the Chairman of the Ethics Committee of the British Medical Journal. He is the author of a number of books in the areas of medical law and criminal law, including Law and Medical Ethics, 6th edition (with J. K. Mason and G. T. Laurie, 2002).

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