Medical Manslaughter Law Reform: A Mistaken Diagnosis

Health Care Analysis 4 (1):54-59 (1996)
'A highly regarded anaesthetist at the height of his abilities has recently faced charges of the manslaughter of a moribund 82-year-old lady who died during the course of an operation for gangrenous bowel'. The language used by McCall Smith and Merry to open their argument for change to New Zealand's manslaughter laws is revealing. Why should it matter that the anaesthetist was 'highly regarded' and 'at the height of his abilities'? Should the criminal law be reserved for lesser mortals who err? Why should the patient's moribund state and age be relevant to criminal liability? Had the anaesthetist hastened her death by stabbing her, would we think that murder charges should not be laid just because she was old and dying?
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DOI 10.1002/(SICI)1099-1042(199602)4:1<54::AID-HCA3170>3.0.CO;2-F
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