The Art of Admitting Your Mistakes

The General Medical Council (GMC) and Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is urging employers to provide a working environment that encourages staff to admit mistakes and raise concerns. It is considered that an open and honest working environment allows staff members to learn from their mistakes and feel comfortable reporting any incidents. 

Medical negligence mistakes

New guidelines from the GMC and NMC advise that patients are entitled to a face to face explanation and apology from those concerned, if necessary. All healthcare professionals have a duty to be honest with people in their care when things go wrong and the new guidelines, written by Sir Robert Francis QC, call for transparency within the healthcare industry. 

The new guidance sets out the standards expected of all doctors, nurses and midwives registered in the UK. It also strives to ensure that patients are also aware of what they should expect from those providing them with care.

It states that the following steps should be taken:-

  • Speak to a patient or family members as soon as possible after something has gone wrong;
  • Apologise to the patient and provide an explanation as to what has occurred and what can be done if they have been harmed. Future prevention should also be discussed.
  • Professional judgment should be used in deciding whether a patient should be informed about “near-misses” – that is where an incident had the potential to harm but did not.
  • Report errors at an early stage so lessons are learned at the earliest possible stage;
  • Managers must protect those who raise errors from unfair criticism, detriment or dismissal. Colleagues should not be deterred from raising concerns.

We at Harper MacLeod welcome this new guidance as we know only too well the distress that our clients go through when left with un-answered questions as to why they have either been seriously injured as a result of care that has gone wrong or why a loved one has passed away, as a result.

We believe that this guidance will allow patients and their families to fully understand why a medical incident has occurred and will allow them to deal and cope with the situation, eventually putting it behind them.

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