Letter: Down's syndrome: litigation, inspiration, and the problems of choice

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Sir: I fully agree with the sentiments expressed in your leading article today (24 August) condemning the practice of defensive medicine. However, you are wrong in implying that it is a problem which is confined to the United States. Unfortunately doctors in the UK have for many years been coming under more and more pressure to perform more intensive investigations and procedures simply in order to minimise the risk of litigation. This trend has been fuelled by an increasingly unrealistic expectation of the capability of modern medicine, in both the general public and those members of the legal profession who sit in judgment on such cases.

This, coupled with the absence of any form of compensation for the tragic victims of medical accidents except for that obtained by suing the medical staff involved, means that the situation will only get worse.

Yours faithfully,


Harraton, Tyne and Wear

24 August