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Title: "Fears and Fallacies: Doctors' Perceptions of the Barriers to Medical Innovation"
Authors: Elliott, T
Miola, J
Samanta, J
Samanta, A
First Published: 2019
Publisher: SAGE Publications (UK and US), Royal Society of Medicine Press
Citation: Clinical Ethics, 2019, In Press
Abstract: In 2014, Lord Saatchi launched his ultimately unsuccessful Medical Innovation Bill in the UK. Its laudable aim was to free doctors from the shackles that he perceived prevented them from providing responsible innovative treatment. Lord Saatchi’s principal contention was that current law was the unsurmountable barrier that prevented clinicians from delivering innovative treatments to cancer patients when conventional options had failed. This was because doctors feared that they might be sued or tried and convicted of gross negligence manslaughter if they deviated from standard practice.(1, 2) Concerns about fear of the law and potential negative effects on medical practice are not new. Fear of litigation has been suggested as the reason for doctors practising “defensive medicine,” by opting for treatments regarded as “grievance-resistant”, (3-6) rather than clinically indicated, for example, by ordering diagnostic tests or performing certain procedures, which are not strictly medically necessary. (7-8) Whilst this claim is plausible and apparently accepted by the courts,(9-11, cf. Hartshorne et al. (12) p.522) there is limited empirical evidence in support of it so far as practitioners in the UK are concerned.(8, 13-14), although more extensive studies have been conducted in Canada (15) and the United States.(16-17) Yet this is not the only piece of legislation that uses reform of negligence law as a means of encouraging medical innovation. The ‘Right to Try’ laws in the US – including the Federal version, the Right to Try Act 2018 - effectively remove the patient’s ability to sue in negligence over the decision to provide experimental treatment (although the legislation does not prevent the patient bringing an action if the treatment was provided in a negligent manner). Our research seeks to address the gap in empirical knowledge by asking health professionals what they themselves see as the barriers to innovating responsibly. We sought to assess whether fear of the law was indeed the primary factor, but also what other obstacles might exist. Barriers need to be identified if these are to be overcome.
ISSN: 1477-7509
Links: TBA
Embargo on file until: 1-Jan-10000
Version: Post-print
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © 2019, SAGE Publications (UK and US), Royal Society of Medicine Press. Deposited with reference to the publisher’s open access archiving policy. (
Description: The file associated with this record is under embargo until publication, in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy. The full text may be available through the publisher links provided above.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, School of Law

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