Prosecuting 'Gross' Medical Negligence: Manslaughter, Discretion, and the Crown Prosecution Service

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34 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article examines prosecutions of health care professionals for gross negligence manslaughter following fatal errors committed in the course of their work. Unease has long surrounded the use `gross negligence' as a form of criminal liability, and particularly as it applies to healthcare professions operating in high-risk settings. The recent dramatic rise of such prosecutions calls for a closer understanding of the processes by which important prosecutorial decisions are made. In particular, this calls for an investigation into the exercise of discretion by prosecutors in interpreting the loosely defined and contested concept of gross negligence. This article analyses data obtained from a statistical analysis of 'medical manslaughter' cases and also from interviews with crown prosecutors. Discussion of the main findings leads to the conclusion that the offence of gross negligence manslaughter is incapable of any objective and fair measurement and ought to be abolished.
Translated title of the contributionProsecuting 'Gross' Medical Negligence: Manslaughter, Discretion, and the Crown Prosecution Service
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421 - 450
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Law and Society
Volume33 (3)
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2006

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Blackwell

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