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First published online September 21, 2015

What are the legal implications of ignoring hospital policies and procedures?


Hospital policies and procedures are designed to help prevent patients being harmed during the course of their treatment. The same principles apply as they do in business: by implementing a process-driven approach to ensuring that every component of the product is manufactured to the highest possible specification, customer satisfaction and safety can be secured. The more safety conscious the business, such as aerospace engineering, the tighter the procedures and controls. Hospitals should be no different; they are dealing with life and death and, as such, straightforward, fully tested procedures that are put in place to eliminate medical negligence mistakes should not be ignored. So why, as medical negligence lawyers, do we still see failures by both hospitals and health professionals to follow well-established procedures resulting in serious harm to patients? And particularly when such failures can and do lead to legal sanctions resulting not only in the loss of reputation and livelihood but also, in extreme cases, to liberty? In this article, which is a personal view, I explore some of the reasons why some medical practitioners fail to follow procedures and policies and outline the sanctions, both civil and criminal, for that failure.

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The author declares that no patient or ethical consent was required for this article.


1. Department of Health. Patients first and foremost: The initial government response to the report of The Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry. March 2013.
2. R v Adomako. 3 WLR 288 House of Lords, 1994.

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Article first published online: September 21, 2015
Issue published: September 2015


  1. Medical negligence
  2. legal implications
  3. hospital procedures
  4. care quality
  5. hospital policies

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© The Author(s) 2015.
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Issue published: September 2015
Published online: September 21, 2015



Jeanette Whyman
Wright Hassall LLP, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, UK


Jeanette Whyman, Wright Hassall LLP, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, UK. Email: [email protected]

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