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When should a doctor’s behaviour be criminal?

Research output: Other contribution

Published
Publication date23/12/2018
DescriptionBlog for the Journal of Medical Ethics
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Two recent, controversial cases involving doctors and the criminal law have caught my attention because they could challenge our perceptions about when it is appropriate to criminalise doctors’ behaviour. We use the criminal law to hold people to account when they commit the most serious wrongs. The State acts in the name of the public and the victim to achieve justice, and to punish through penal sanction. When a doctor deliberately sets out to harm a patient, this can intuitively appear to be a sound reason for turning to the criminal law to deal with the matter. But cases where there is no such intent can be more morally challenging.