October/November 2017 (vol. 14/3)

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Medical mistakes and criminal prosecutions

When can medical negligence be grounds for criminal prosecution?


A decision by the Court of Appeal to quash a gross negligence manslaughter conviction of an optometrist makes clear that there needs to be a very high level of culpability before medical negligence falls into the realm of manslaughter. Health and safety legal specialist Mike Appleby examines the judgment and its implications.  

The decision of the Court of Appeal on 31 July 2017 to quash the conviction of Honey Rose, a part-time Boots optometrist, for gross negligence manslaughter has divided public opinion1. Rose was prosecuted because she failed to notice that a seven-year-old boy had swollen optic discs when she examined him at a branch of Boots Opticians in 2012. The abnormality is a symptom of hydrocephalus – accumulation of fluid on the brain. Five months later, on 13 July 2012, he was taken ill at school and died later that day…


Mike Appleby is a solicitor and partner at Fisher Scoggins Waters LLP.

Author: Appleby M


Occupational Health at Work October/November 2017 (vol. 14/3) pp36-37

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