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Increasing physician protection against prosecution: unjustified and unwise
  1. Gary Levvis
  1. Correspondence to Gary Levvis, Philosophy Department, University of Connecticut, 855 University Drive, Torrington, CT 06790-2699, USA; Gary.levvis{at}

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This paper pertains to the alleged euthanising of a 3-month-old infant at Sweden's Astrid Lindgren Children’s Hospital in September 2008 and the subsequent effects upon the doctor who was charged with, but eventually acquitted of, violating Sweden's anti-euthanasia law. Lynøe and Leijonhufvud1 contend that particular modifications should be made to the existing Swedish regulatory regime in order to secure what they refer to as ‘physician safety’—that is, protection against unnecessary lawsuits that may well endanger a doctor's reputation and career. Undoubtedly, many things went wrong at the Astrid Lindgren Children's Hospital. As the authors acknowledge, there occurred the initial botched delivery, the overdose of sodium chloride as well as the unrecorded administration of a toxic level of thiopental to the patient either by the defendant or by another doctor. The only thing the authors regard as unproblematic within this series of events is the determination by the Swedish Board of Health and Welfare that the doctor-defendant's behaviour ‘accords with good clinical practice’ that serves as the principal assumption upon which they contend that the system, rather than the doctors’ behaviour, is to be faulted.

It would be easier to sympathise with the authors’ position had they explained more fully the basis of the Swedish Board's determination. …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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