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The practice of end-of-life care is the essence of nursing
  1. Penny Hansford, Director of Nursing, Consultant Editor
  1. St Christopher’s Hospice, London

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Ihave just finished reading the latest report published by the Healthcare Commission (HCC) Spotlight on Complaints (HCC, 2008). It reiterates guidance issued in a previous report about the need for ‘providers to apologise to patients and their families when something has gone wrong’. Spotlight on Complaints states that, in one out of 10 cases referred to the HCC, the person making the complaint was simply seeking an apology or an acknowledgement that care could have been improved.

The HCC is frequently told by trusts that have received complaints that they had not apologised for fear of admitting liability. However, the medical defence organisations and the NHS Litigation Authority have consistently made it clear that apologies can be given to try and resolve matters without admitting liability. Spotlight on …

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