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Survey reveals neurosurgeons avoid risky surgery

19 June, 2000

A survey carried out by the BBC has revealed that some brain surgeons are reluctant to perform complex operations because of fears of being sued if mistakes are made. This follows an increase in the number of patients taking legal action against their surgeons.

70 per cent of the 190 members of the Society of British Neurological Surgeons completed the survey. 70 per cent of the recipients said the increase in legal action had led them to change the way they practiced medicine, with 52 per cent of those saying they would be less likely to offer major surgery to a high risk patient than they would have done five years ago.

The risks involved with brain surgery for both patient and surgeon are high as they can involve some of the most delicate medical procedures. With legal settlements soaring into millions of pounds surgeons are becoming increasingly cautious about the cases they deal with.

The British Medical Association said they favoured a system of no fault compensation, whereby a patient receives damages without a doctor being blamed.