Legal principles of responsibility and accountability in professional healthcare

Cornock, Marc (2014). Legal principles of responsibility and accountability in professional healthcare. Orthopaedic & Trauma Times(23) pp. 16–18.


Within healthcare a number of concepts are raised whenever professionalism is being discussed or considered; these are the concepts of responsibility and accountability. Indeed, most healthcare professionals will undoubtedly have these terms mentioned somewhere within their contact of employment and job specifications. Yet, the concepts are sometimes used interchangeably and they are often used inappropriately.

This article will discuss what these concepts mean and how they are related to each other, as well as how they relate to the term liability.

The article will also explore why healthcare professionals are held to be responsible, accountable and/or liable and suggest that it is professional accountability that actually allows healthcare professionals to have any degree of autonomy over their professional practice.

The article ends with consideration of the consequences and outcomes that can arise as a result of professional accountability.

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