The criminalisation of medical mistakes in Canada : a review

McDonald, Fiona (2008) The criminalisation of medical mistakes in Canada : a review. Health Law Journal, 16, pp. 1-25.

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The issue of health professionals facing criminal charges of manslaughter or criminal negligence causing death or grievous bodily harm as a result of alleged negligence in their professional practice was thrown into stark relief by the recent acquittal of four physicians accused of mismanaging Canada’s blood system in the early 1980s. Stories like these, as well as international reports detailing an increase in the numbers of physicians being charged with (and in some cases convicted of) serious criminal offences as the result of alleged negligence in their professional practice, have resulted in some anxiety about the apparent increase in the incidence of such charges and their appropriateness in the healthcare context. Whilst research has focused on the incidence, nature and appropriateness of criminal charges against health professionals, particularly physicians, for alleged negligence in their professional practice in the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, and New Zealand, the Canadian context has yet to be examined.
This article examines the Canadian context and how the criminal law is used to regulate the negligent acts or omissions of a health care professional in the course of their professional practice. It also assesses the appropriateness of such use. It is important at this point to state that the analysis in this article does not focus on those, fortunately few, cases where a health professional has intentionally killed his or her patients but rather when patients’ deaths or grievous injuries were allegedly as a result of that health professional’s negligent acts or omissions when providing health services to that patient.

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1 citations in Scopus
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ID Code: 27025
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: criminal law, medical mistakes, patient safety, criminal negligence, manslaughter
ISSN: 1192-8336
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > OTHER LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (189900) > Law and Legal Studies not elsewhere classified (189999)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Research Centres > Australian Centre for Health Law Research
Current > Schools > School of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2008 Health Law Institute, University of Alberta
Deposited On: 27 Oct 2009 02:20
Last Modified: 12 Feb 2015 00:58

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