Ethics & law
I’ve been asked to lie in an adverse incident report
Marika Davies, a medicolegal adviser, gives advice on some common ethical dilemmas faced by medical students
The junior doctor is clearly concerned that he will be criticised for failing to carry out a full assessment of the patient. However, asking you to lie on his behalf is an unreasonable request to make, and it is not in the interests of anyone concerned.
If something goes wrong and a patient comes to harm, the hospital has a duty to provide them—or, in this case, their family—with a full explanation and apology. It might be that doing an abdominal examination would not have made any difference to the subsequent course of events, but it could mislead those investigating the incident if the doctor does not give a truthful account and says he did something that he did not.
The junior doctor has a professional obligation, as set out by the General Medical Council, to be open and honest and provide an explanation and apology where appropriate. The fact