Friday, 7 December 2007

To err is human

Dr David Southall has been causing a stir in the media. In 2005, following the Sally Clarke affair, he avoided being struck off. Earlier this week he was found guilty of serious professional misconduct over another case and was struck off the medical register. Paediatricians rallied round, saying Dr Southall was the victim of a plot to deny the existence of child abuse. Some parents and children involved with the doctor accuse him of following his own agenda and keeping documents that should have been in medical files. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has described him as having made " a major contribution to child health."

Doctors are human beings. Sometimes they make mistakes. Sometimes their motives are flawed. They can have bad days, they can do bad things. They are just like everyone else. Because we perceive them to have power over people we all want them to do the right things for the right reasons all of the time. We want to feel we can trust them.

There are specific laws and guidance on protecting the vulnerable in society, which all health staff should be aware of. For guidance around children the NLH specialist library for Child Health is a good starting point.

The General Medical Council provides guidance for doctors on how to behave. It is the GMC that investigates allegations against doctors. Other professions also have guidance. The Nursing and Midwifery Council provides guidance on fitness to practise for professionals, as well as information for the public on making complaints. NHS Choices also advises patients on making complaints against the NHS.

I wonder how many complaints arise from a lack of understanding on either side about what is wanted, or what can be achieved? Communication is a key skill for all health care staff - which is why we have so many books on the subject in the library.

1 comment:

Robyn said...

I like how my car crash photo has been used. Thanks for the Creative Commons attribution!