To expose an incident of clinical negligence is never an act of betrayal. That statement may seem dogmatic, but when an innocent’s life or well being is at stake, any reputation or relationship must take a subordinate position to the truth. To tell the truth in a situation such as this is a social duty, and for those in the trade, it is a professional obligation. The maxim “Do no harm” applies to omission as well as commission. The inactive observer has as much of a duty as does the active participant.
When entrusted with a person’s body and his or her health, every member of the team bears a responsibility. From the knife to the most menial of antiseptic chores, one must see to it that one’s job is being done without flaw. If there is a problem which may compromise that responsibility, it needs to be addressed straightaway. One is never doing a favour to anyone by keeping clinical negligence under wraps. The consequences may be as little as extending the recovery or creating a need for further treatment, or they could be of the most dire nature. Either way, a flawed procedure must not be ignored.
Due to the gravity of any clinical negligence assertion, great care must be taken to ensure that the charge is valid. Any claims based upon malicious intent, such as revenge, financial gain, competition and the like, are as abhorrent as any unnecessary procedure based upon personal gain. Remember that careers hang in the balance. A life’s work can be and has been undone by erroneous assertions. Even when it is verified that no clinical negligence has occurred, a reputation and livelihood can be damaged beyond repair.
The point of keeping negligence in check is to assure a safe and confident environment to all parties. No one likes mistakes, and to become involved in a charge on anyone’s part is a rather unsavoury business to be in. However, the duty of vigilance is always there, and is incumbent on us all to exercise it when necessary.