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Assessing the role of regulatory bodies in managing health professional issues and errors in Europe

Isabelle Risso-Gill, Helena Legido-Quigley, Dimitra Panteli, Martin McKee
International Journal for Quality in Health Care pp. 1 – 10




Objective. This paper explores how medical regulatory bodies in nine European countries manage professional issues involving quality and patient safety, to build on limited existing information on procedures for regulating medical professionals in Europe.

Design. Twelve vignettes describing scenarios of concerns about standards of physicians were developed, covering clinical, criminal and administrative matters. Medical regulatory bodies in nine European countries were asked what action they would normally take in each situation. Their responses were related to their regulatory mandate.

Results. Responses varied greatly across participating countries. Regulators are always involved where patients are at risk or where a criminal offence is committed within the clinical setting. Non-criminal medical issues were generally handled by the employer, if any, at their discretion. Countries varied in the use of punitive measures, the extent to which they took an interest in issues arising outside professional activities, and whether they dealt with issues themselves or referred cases to another regulatory authority or took no action at all.

Conclusions. There is little consistency across Europe on the regulation of medical professionals. There is considerable diversity in the range of topics that regulatory bodies oversee, with almost all covering health care quality and safety and others encompassing issues related to reputation, respect and trust. These inconsistencies have significant implications for professional mobility, patient safety and quality of care.</div>

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