Dr S is an Emergency Medicine consultant working the night shift in a busy city centre teaching hospital. A 23-year-old male, Mr N, is brought in to the hospital by paramedics with a gunshot wound to his left leg. He becomes extremely distressed when Dr S begins to take a detailed history.
When Dr S suggests reporting the crime, Mr N becomes very aggressive and starts to threaten Dr S, warning him not to call the police. What should Dr S do?
Doctors have a responsibility to inform the police quickly whenever a person arrives with a gunshot wound or knife injury
Doctors have a responsibility to inform the police quickly whenever a person arrives with a gunshot wound or knife injury, in order to allow police to make an assessment of the risk to the patient and others and to record the crime for statistical purposes.
However, Dr S should make a professional judgment about whether to disclose Mr N’s name and other personal information. If it is probable that a crime has been committed, and Mr N is unwilling to disclose information or allow doctors to do so, Dr S can speak to the police if the information is required by law, or is in the public interest.
If you decide not to tell the patient about the disclosure as it may put you or others at risk of serious harm, or prejudice the prevention, detection or prosecution of a crime, you must document this decision and be prepared to justify it.