• By Sam Cook
  • In
  • Posted Tuesday September 1, 2015

Duty of candour and investigating medical negligence: What about the employees?

The ‘duty of candour’ rules came into force on 29th June 2015 and impacts all healthcare professionals in the UK. The regulation requires professionals such as Doctors, Nurses and Dentists to inform patients and apologise when things go wrong and provide reasonable support and truthful information to patients.

The rules were initially introduced under the Health and Social Care 2008 (2014 regulations update) in response to suggestions from the investigations into the Mid-Staffordshire health care failings between 2005 and 2009 and the preventable patient deaths.

Although the CQC can prosecute for breaches of this regulation without servicing a warning notice in some circumstances and failure to follow this could increase medical negligence claims from patients, making snap decisions in regards to terminating employees can expose the practice to different legal consequences, those of an employment law nature.

Medical Negligence Investigations 

It is important that a ‘blame culture’ does not arise as a result of this introduction. This is because it will create an unpleasant environment to work in and may affect recruitment and retention but also, this creates a risk of constructive dismissal claims.

To prevent a blame culture and ensure true problems within the Practice are being addressed a comprehensive investigation should take place into incidents.

FPM have created a flow chart for members to assist the practices with investigating medical accidents and incidents in the HR guidance area of the website.

Investigation Outcomes

When considering what steps to take, it is important that any steps are viewed as ‘preventative’, dismissal should be a last resort and steps to address any additional factors within the Practice that may have contributed should be considered.

A simple illustration is included in our Medical Negligence/Duty of Candour Investigation document in the members area with some basic suggestions, although each case should be reviewed on a case by case basis and a combination of actions can be considered.

For more on the above topic, FPM Members can find further information, flow charts and tools in our Medical Negligence/Duty of Candour Investigation document in the HR/Employment Law Guidance area of the website.

 

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