Physician accountability, patient safety and patient compensation.World Hosp Health Serv. 2006; 42(2):14-6.WH
In Canada, the response to adverse medical events follows one or more of three main paths: patient safety, physician accountability and patient compensation. While their goals differ, each of these responses serves a valuable function. There are however competing imperatives inherent in each response, particularly in terms of information disclosure: Effective patient safety depends on the full and protected disclosure of all information relevant to an adverse event and requires a "no blame" environment. While natural justice demands that a physician be held accountable for his actions, the doctor should be accorded the right of due process and be judged against an established standard of care. This is necessarily a fault-finding activity. Patient compensation meets both accountability demands and the social justice imperatives of supporting a patient injured through physician negligence. The most effective approach is one that achieves balance between competing imperatives. With clear information disclosure rules, patient safety, physician accountability and patient compensation can operate synergistically.