Trainees

Is the standard of care lower for trainees than for senior doctors? Is it an excuse that you have not seen a condition before, and cannot be expected to get it right? No case in medical law has yet addressed this (though see end of last paragraph), although in one case (failing to detect that an umbilical catheter was in the vein rather than an artery as it did not, on radiography, pass down to the groin before going up to the heart) a pediatric registrar was held at fault when his senior house officer was not, which suggests a different standard for different grades. However, a safer principle to adopt is that there is one standard of care in any circumstance, because any other suggestion will be met with the question: 'If you did not know what you were doing, why did you not call someone who did?' The only proper answer, if true, can be that there was not time.

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