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The importance of keeping up to date with clinical guidelines and protocols

09 March 2023
Volume 32 · Issue 5


John Tingle, Lecturer in Law, Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham, discusses aspects of the law on clinical guidelines and other care management tools

Failure to be aware of and to follow clinical guidelines and protocols could constitute clinical negligence, but not in all cases, and much will depend on the facts of each case. The recent case of four-year-old Charlotte who lost all four limbs because hospital staff failed to recognise and treat her properly for meningitis and sepsis forcibly brings this point home. The solicitor helping her and her family stated:

‘All these symptoms, according to NICE guidelines, should have immediately raised a red flag for sepsis (blood poisoning) in children under five. In the hospital's own Serious Incident Report, a treating doctor said he was not aware that limb pain was associated with meningococcal sepsis and had therefore not reported it to a senior doctor.’

Nadel, 2023

All professions have guidelines, protocols, standards and so on – nursing and medicine are replete with these, and many healthcare staff feel overwhelmed with the amount of material and publications produced. A Care Quality Commission (CQC) report stated:

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