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Clinical Responsibility

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Title: Clinical Responsibility

Author: Jane Lynch

Publisher: Radcliffe Publishing, 2009

Reviewer: Adam Fitzgerald, staff nurse, Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust

What was it like?

This book aims to provide the distinction between professional accountability and the actual letter of the law. Jane Lynch has written a number of books in a series outlining various aspects of law with regard to healthcare, aiming to assist the practitioner or allied healthcare worker. Jane Lynch, by her own admission, is a lawyer specialising in medical malpractice and appears through her writing to have sought out the areas that concern practitioners whilst writing this book.


What were the highlights? 

The book is broken down into relatively easy to read chapters and is supported by a reference page at the end of each chapter to provide further information. The main bulk of information is supported by real world case studies and examples. However many of the case studies are left open ended leaving you wondering what the actual outcome for the professional was.

Strengths & weaknesses

From a nursing perspective, this book provides a useful introduction to medical law, the responsibilities expected from the courts and the conflicts between the law and the occasions where the law and the NMC Code of Conduct clash. It also provides and insights to the events that may occur when the healthcare practitioner isn’t at fault such as Coroner’s Courts where the purpose is to establish cause of death rather than allocate blame. There are even set reflective exercises in the book and discussion points, especially useful if this were to be used as a course text.

Overall the book is well written although is a little hard to initially get into, but once past the initial chapter and some of the legal terms, it becomes more familiar (aided by the glossary at the rear). However, there is one main error on P.74 where it is written student nurse where it is meant to be staff nurse. This does let the book down a little bit as it appears the author has tried to connect with healthcare staff including spending time with ECP’s as mentioned in chapter 20 and gain as much of a prospective as possible for someone with a non-medical background. Yet this edition provides a raft of useful information from an initial complaint up to the point of a civil or criminal proceeding and would be a recommended read at any level from student nurse upwards.

Who should read it?

Being a relatively newly qualified staff nurse, we are always taught about the professional code of conduct. However we spend very little time actually seeing where we stand within the eyes of the law. The publication appears to be aimed mainly at doctors, nurses and midwives focusing heavily on the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and General Medical Council (GMC); on the other hand within the later chapters there is greater emphasis on the health professionals council, with regards to paramedics, radiographers, speech and language therapists and emergency care practitioners (ECP). Although the book appears to be aimed mainly at registered practitioners I believe it would be a good insight for final year students to read to gain an understanding of the implications from being a registered practitioner.

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