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Responsible Practice or Restricted Practice? An Empirical Study of the Use of Clinical Guidelines in Medical Negligence Litigation

Samanta, Jo, Samanta, Ash and BESWICK, Joanne (2021) Responsible Practice or Restricted Practice? An Empirical Study of the Use of Clinical Guidelines in Medical Negligence Litigation. Medical Law Review, 29 (2). pp. 205-232. ISSN 1464-3790

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Abstract or description

In medical negligence litigation, the standard for breach of duty is measured against the Bolam test which reflects accepted practice. Despite protracted debate and common law development, the Bolam standard remains the touchstone for litigation in this area. Clinical guidelines (CGs) are statements based upon best available medical evidence and are designed to facilitate clinical decision-making to optimise outcomes thereby reflecting expected practice. Nevertheless, there is little research that considers how CGs engage in litigation and their influence on judicial reasoning. Given the increasing pressures on the NHS amid rising costs of litigation, these are important issues. This study provides an original contribution to the literature on CGs in determining breach of duty in law. Using a mixed methods’ approach, data from multiple sources have been gathered and analysed to assess the use of CGs by lawyers and the courts thereby adding to the discourse on the judicial shift away from deference to Bolam. It concludes by offering a conceptual basis for the use of CGs within a framework for reasonableness and promotes their principled use while avoiding constraints on expert testimony, experience, and exercise of clinical discretion. This study has relevance for academics, legal and medical practitioners, and policy makers.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: expert testimony, guidelines, principles of law and justice, statutes and laws, clinical practice guideline, litigation, standard of care, national health service (uk)
Faculty: School of Law, Policing and Forensics > Law
Depositing User: Joanne BESWICK
Date Deposited: 22 May 2023 09:36
Last Modified: 22 May 2023 09:36

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