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Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Law and Order on ITV on Sunday evening

This was the first time I have ever watched Law and Order. It didn't grab me; I don't think I'll watch it again. However, some comments:

A young woman died in hospital. It was not her illness that killed her; it was the easily avoidable error of administering a fairly commonly prescribed painkiller - codeine - to a patient who was already taking an antidepressant drug known to have an adverse interaction with that painkiller.

The hospital record had been altered to change codeine to paracetamol and a page of the notes was missing. These are serious offences which are, sadly, not uncommon after medical negligence occurs. What is uncommon is for anyone to be punished for it.

The investigators were lied to about it all by several of the hospital staff, such that Bradley Walsh's character comments to his colleague that the staff were all agreed that nobody did anything wrong. - In my experience, this cover-up is standard practice in cases of medical negligence, the difference being in this story, that the lies were checked out, instead of simply being uncritically accepted.

It turned out that it was the consultant who was most to blame for the untimely death of the young woman, because he was addicted to codeine, and this addiction had impaired his mental abilities. He also lied both in court and prior to the court case. The death of the patient was not 'a mistake'. It was a consequence of his drug addiction. Nonetheless, and despite being found guilty, he received only a two-year suspended sentence.

A derisory sentence for avoidably causing the death of a young woman patient; no sentences at all, apparently, for the other hospital staff who sought to pervert the course of justice by lying to the police investigators; lots of sympathy and understanding for the negligent consultant; and bugger-all sympathy and help for the bereaved and blameless father of the deceased. - 10 out of 10 for accuracy about how medical negligence is dealt with in this country...)o:

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