Innocence revisited

The rising tide of litigation

John Scott



Innocence or otherwise is largely defined by successive experiences. Early on in life, the hope is that one’s innocence will be rapidly lost. Such is not the case, Professor Sir John Scott explains.

Article Extract

As the rising tide of litigation and complaints against doctors commenced, many of us who had been established practi-tioners for a couple of decades or more assumed we had ‘seen and heard it all’. Some of us even thought we were above, and immune from, the process of close scrutiny by peers, let alone by the general public – we were innocents to the nuances of this evolving scene.

At that time, I was reasonably confident in my professional position as chief medical officer at a large metropolitan hospital. The ward sister (charge nurse) was an extremely competent senior woman of great charm and efficiency. She had a good but overworked staff. A bright and competent trio of junior doctors complemented the unit.

Alas, one Sunday afternoon, adoring relatives visited a patient and found her lying dead – ward staff being unaware of this. This was not an appropriate thing for the patient to have done on the Sabbath.