The Scottish government refuses to insist medical staff tell patients about mistakes.
Doctors and nurses in England will soon be legally bound to tell patients when they've made errors in their treatment but patients in Scotland will be kept in the dark. A Scottish government spokeswoman said: "There is no statutory duty to inform patients of mistakes or drug errors and we're not proposing to introduce one.
"General Medical Council guidance places a duty on all doctors to explain to patients who suffer harm and, where appropriate, apologise."
In Scotland NHS guidance places a responsibility on boards to let anyone know the result of the investigation, show that it has looked into the complaint and reply to all the points raised and offer an apology if things go wrong.
"The charity Action Against Medical Accidents' chief executive said: "How can patients make a complaint if they're not informed of a mistake?
It's very disappointing that the Scottish government does not appreciate the need for a statutory duty to openness and honesty with patients."
Margaret Watt, chairwoman of Scotland Patients' Association said most patients do not want to take legal action. All they want is an explanation, an apology and an assurance lessons have been learned. Doctors and nurses make mistakes. Why shouldn't they own up?
I support Scotland Patients' Association as it does some excellent work but I have no idea why Action Against Medical Accidents is classed as a charity because it appears to be only concerned with compensation claims. In fact its top sponsor is a cost consultant business.
That aside, this is a short-sighted decision from Nicola Sturgeon. We need to encourage openness between medics and patients and not the present system which requires writing lengthy letters, from both sides, and replies written in jargon only a legal expert would understand. A few years ago I complained to my local NHS and the process was horrendous. Not one reply was made within the time they stated and money was wasted sending me three letters telling me of the delays. My complaint wasn't a complex one either.
The medical profession will be relieved at Ms Sturgeon's decision but it's certainly not a good one for patients. According to a 2008 report, by Aberdeen University and Imperial College London, up to 90% of hospital errors are not recorded, including incorrect drug doses, misdiagnoses and prescribing wrong medicines leading to disability and death. Up to 50,000 patients in Scotland are affected each year, contributing to 5000 deaths.
Surely our doctors and nurses want our support, but how can we have confidence in them if they are not duty bound to tell us when errors are made? Is their concern to do with this new compensation culture which has appeared in recent years or is it the medical profession feels no responsibility for the care of their patients?