We doctors live in daily fear of being sued. But that is only one side of the story. On the other side is the lot of the sensible patient or relative who genuinely believes that “something went wrong that should not have gone wrong”, but who faces the daunting task and uphill struggle of mounting a claim for negligence. His or her daily fear will not be one of being called to court, but quite the opposite, of ever getting the claim off the ground in the first place.
Ethicists – those academics who are wont to use the incomprehensible in pursuit of the unknowable – have lately been enjoying something of an outing from their armchairs in the matter of Kerrie Wooltorton. Many aspects have been much debated, but one mighty elephant remains in the room: to what extent is a doctor who stands by and watches a suicide complicit in that suicide?
The man-made nature of law, both common and statute, means that it can have many if not all of the attributes of man. It can be great and just, just as it can be weak and flawed. And it can be abused – and nowhere is this more clearly seen than in the tragic case of Kerrie Wooltorton…
In the Good Old Days, NFN (Normal For Norfolk) was medical shorthand used to describe a patient who appeared peculiar, or odd. It now appears that NFN may apply not only to patients, but to other goings on in the good county of Norfolk.
Since the General Medical Council hopped into bed with the Department of Health earlier this year, we have seen surprisingly little in the way of overt matrimonial activity. It does appear, however, that there has much foreplay going on under the duvet, and the happy couple are moving ever nearer to that orgy of wanton destruction that will soon be on us – the orgy of enhanced professional regulation for doctors.
For some time, Dr No has been troubled by a particular aspect of the suicide of Kerrie Wooltorton. It is an aspect that has received little coverage, perhaps because it is a complex and murky area, but it is nonetheless important. It is countertransference, and how it may have influenced Wooltorton’s treatment, even to the extent that it may have contributed to her death.
Alan “You’re Fired!” Johnson, who appears to belong to the shoot-the-bastard, simple-but-effective school of ministerial authority, is now finding that, far from cracking the Nutt, he appears to have instead shot himself in the foot, and produced an outcome that is neither simple, nor effective. Or, for a minister, desirable.